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Ions control shape of nanofibers grown on clear substrate
Date:8/16/2011

field in the chamber that excites the atoms in the acetylene and ammonia gas. Some of the electrons in these atoms break away, creating free electrons and positively charged atoms called ions. The free electrons accelerate around the chamber, knocking loose even more electrons. The positively charged ions are drawn to the negatively charged grid on the floor of the chamber.

Meanwhile, the nickel nanoparticles are serving as catalysts, reacting with the carbon in the acetylene gas (C2H2) to create graphitic carbon nanofibers. The catalyst rides on the tip of the nanofiber that forms beneath it, like a rapidly growing pillar. The term graphitic means that the nanofibers have carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure like graphite.

One problem with growing carbon nanofibers is that the surface of the catalyst can become obstructed by a carbon film that blocks catalytic action, preventing further nanofibers growth. Here's where those ions come in.

The ions being drawn to the chromium grid are moving very quickly, and they choose the shortest possible route to reach the negatively-charged metal. In their rush to reach the grid, the ions often collide with the nickel catalysts, knocking off the excess carbon and allowing further nanofibers growth.

Because the ions are being drawn to the chromium grid, the angle at which they strike the catalysts depends on where the catalyst is located relative to the grid. For example, if you are looking down at the grid, a catalyst just to the right of the grid will appear to be leaning right because ions would have been striking the right side of the catalyst in an attempt to reach the grid. These nanofibers are still straight they don't curl up they simply lean in one direction. The bulk of the nanofibers, however, are both straight and vertically aligned.

"This finding gives us an opportunity to create new reactors for creating nanofibers, building in the chromium grid," Me
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Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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