Precise Identification of the Active Phase of Cobalt Catalyst for Carbon Nanotube Growth by In Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy
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- Precise Identification of the Active Phase of Cobalt Catalyst for Carbon Nanotube Growth by In Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy
- Wang, Yang; Qiu, Lu; Zhang, Lili; Tang, Dai-Ming; Ma, Ruixue; Wang, Yongzhao; Zhang, Bingsen; Ding, Feng; Liu, Chang; Cheng, Hui-Ming
- Issue Date
- American Chemical Society
- ACS NANO
- Revealing the active phase and structure of catalyst nanoparticles (NPs) is crucial for understanding the growth mechanism and realizing the controlled synthesis of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). However, due to the high temperature and complex environment during CNT growth, precise identification of the active catalytic phase remains a great challenge. We investigated the phase evolution of cobalt (Co) catalyst NPs during the incubation, nucleation, and growth stages of CNTs under near-atmospheric pressure using an in situ close-cell environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM). Strict statistical analysis of the electron diffractograms was performed to accurately identify the phases of the catalyst NPs. It was found that the NPs belong to an orthorhombic Co3C phase that remained unchanged during CNT growth, with errors in lattice spacing <5% and in angle <2°, despite changes in their morphology and orientation. Theoretical calculations further confirm that Co3C is the thermodynamically preferred phase during CNT growth, with the supply of carbon atoms through the surface and NP–CNT interfacial diffusion.
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