Since the breakthrough enabling the mass production of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) (Iijima 1993), many researchers in institutes and companies around the world have been developing efficient production methods for SWNTs (Harris, 1999). Various applications of this new and stable carbon nanomaterial with unique properties have been proposed (Jorio et al., 2008). However, insufficient control of the production of SWNTs is a major problem in developing applications of SWNTs. The mass production of long high-quality, defect-free SWNTs such as those with a length of 10 cm and a diameter of 1 nm is a major research target. Quality control in the production of SWNTs in terms of their diameter, chirality and defect density is also an important research target. Through the development of SWNTs, it is hoped that they can be used in strong and lightweight carbon wires and lightweight but strong composite bodies for many types of vehicles. Therefore, a basic study on the production process of SWNTs is very important for establishing new methods of producing high-quality SWNTs. In this study, the production of SWNTs by the arc discharge method is investigated. This is one of most popular methods of producing SWNTs, and it is essential to carry out the reaction in a hot helium gas atmosphere. As the reaction is strongly affected by gravity (heat convection) (Mieno, 2004) and the applied magnetic field (Lorentz force), the effects of gravity, heat convection and magnetic field on the production of SWNTs were experimentally studied. The process was examined under zero gravity, normal gravity and high gravity. As there are large differences among them, the authors discusses experimental results in comparison with reaction models and fluid simulation results. An investigation of the effect of applied magnetic field on inducing the
The effect of zero gravity was first examined using a vertical swing tower (VST), that repeatedly produces 1.1 s of zero gravity. Then, a series of parabolic-flight experiments were carried out with the support of Japan Space Forum, in which 10-20 periods of 20 s of zero gravity were obtained per flight. The results were compared with those of the laboratory experiment. A higher-gravity experiment was carried out using a rotating acceleration generator, which produces gravity of 1-3
2. Theoretical model of production process under selected reaction conditions
Figure 1 shows a reaction model of SWNTs fabricated by the arc-discharge method. Sublimated carbon molecules and metal atoms diffuse in the region of hot He gas, where the metal atoms fuse to form nanosize catalytic particles, and carbon atoms diffuse into the catalyst particles or diffuse on them. During the cooling process of the hot gas, SWNTs grow on the catalyst particles, which is a self-organizing process, and no special mould is used. The reaction is strongly affected by the gas temperature, the diffusion speed, the cooling rate of the particles, the carbon density and the catalyst particle density.
When spherical carbon clusters of the same diameter and mass are produced in a globe, which is located at the centre of spherical coordinates and has radius of
Under the normal gravity, the gravitational force causes strong heat convection, in which all
the carbon clusters flow upward with the He gas under a collisional pressure condition. This convection velocity can be calculated using a set of fluid equations. Here, a simulation by the simplified marker and cell (SMAC) method (Payret & Taylor, 1983) (Mizuho Information & Research Institution Inc., Fuji-RIC/Alfa-Flow) was used. The heat convection velocity versus He gas pressure under normal gravity is shown in figure 2. The heat convection velocity is much larger than the diffusion velocity of the clusters. Therefore, it can be expected that under zero gravity, the diffusion velocity of the clusters dramatically decreases. From equation 3, it is expected that larger and heavier clusters diffuse more slowly in He gas. In the case of SWNTs, the structure is chainlike, which decreases their mobility in the gas. From the measurement of the mobilities of fullerenes, chainlike carbon clusters and ring-type carbon clusters, it was shown that the diffusion velocity of long-chain-type clusters is about half that of spherical clusters with the same mass (von Helden et al., 1993). Therefore, SWNTs are estimated to have half the diffusion velocity of spherical carbon clusters with the same mass. In the case of arc discharge, carbon atoms diffuse from the arc-plasma region. Therefore, this large suppression of the diffusion speed under zero-gravity should realize high-temperature long-time hot reaction for synthesizing SWNTs.
If the heat convection is suppressed, the gas atoms and clusters isotropically diffuse, resulting in the high-temperature gas region around the arc plasma becoming spherical and the volume of this region becoming much larger. Using the SMAC simulation method, the time evolution of the He gas temperature contours around the plasma was calculated and is
shown in figures 3(a) and 3(b) (Mieno, 2006). These figures show the profiles of He gas temperature contours under (a) zero gravity and (b) normal gravity, and the right half of the reaction chamber is visualized. Here,
When the gravity is increased from 1.0
contours were calculated (Tan & Mieno, 2010b). The vertical distributions of the gas temperature along the
When a steady-state magnetic field is applied to the arc plasma, electrons and ions are accelerated by the Lorentz force (
3. Production of SWNTs by arc-discharge method
3.1. Gravity-free production by means of parabolic flight
At first, we constructed a 12-m-high vertical swing tower (VST) in the university campus supported by the Institute of Space & Astronautical Science, Japan (ISAS/JAXA). A photograph and the schematic of the VST are shown in figure 7. Suspended by a thin stainless wire and a 2-m-long rubber rope, an arc reactor was swung by force from an air cylinder, and a constant-amplitude swing of the reactor was realized (Mieno, 2004). The amplitude is about 4 m peak to peak, the period was 2.3 s and the gravity-free time was 1.1 s. Synchronous with this swing, the arc-discharge current was pulse-time-modulated. After about 30 min of swinging, 15 min of integrated gravity-free production was realized. By this method, SWNTs were produced (Kanai et al., 2001). The result shows that amount of produced carbon soot increased by about 13.5 times that produced under normal gravity. However, 1.1 s of gravity-free time was not sufficient to form a large and spherical gas region for synthesizing SWNTs.
Then, I had the chance to perform an experiment using a specially prepared jet plane in Japan, in which a repetitive series of experiments under 20 s of microgravity condition was conducted using parabolic flights. I tried to examine the microgravity effects in the production of SWNTs by this method (Mieno, 2006, Mieno & Takeguchi, 2006). We developed special equipment for this purpose (which includes a small arc reactor, a DC power supply, a pumping system, a gas-feeding system, diagnostic systems such as video cameras, thermocouples, and a Mie scattering unit.) as shown in figure 8. The equipment was installed in the jet plane (Grumman G-II), which was operated to make repeated parabolic flights (Mieno, 2003). In one flight, 10-20 parabolic flights were carried out, by which 200-400 s of the integrated gravity-free production of SWNTs were realized. The reactor is a cylindrical metal chamber 16 cm in diameter and 20 cm high, in which a carbon rod anode 6.0 mm in diameter including Ni/Y metal particles and a carbon rod cathode 10.0 mm in diameter were set.
After evacuating the reactor with a rotary pump, He gas was introduced in the reactor and the reactor was closed. A DC power supply (Daihen Co., VRTP-200) was used to continue DC arc discharge under a constant current.
To clarify the gravity effect, the production was carried out on the ground under the same discharge condition of zero gravity. After the production, the produced carbon soot was carefully collected and analysed. The TEM images of the produced SWNTs are shown in Fig. 9, where
3.2. High-gravity production using rotating acceleration generator
To clarify the gravity effects, SWNTs were produced under high gravity. In this case, stronger heat convection is expected and the reactor time decreases. For this purpose, the rotating acceleration generator of JAXA, Japan was used.
The photograph of the generator is shown in figure 12. The generator has a 6.5-m-long arm rotating at a constant speed to reach an acceleration of 0 – 490 m/s2. (Tan & Mieno, 2010a) On one end of the arm, the experimental set up was installed, and by remote control with a motor drive and video cameras, arc discharge under a continuous high gravity was carried out. Under 2-
To determine the production site of SWNTs, a cylindrical carbon collector array (each cylinder is 0.8 cm in diameter and 2.0 cm long) was installed 1.0 cm from the arc centre (Tan & Mieno, 2010a). The soot is collected at
where the radial breathing modes (RBM) of SWNTs are shown on the left side. The G-band and D-band of carbon are shown on the right side. Vertical direction variations of these signals can be confirmed. In the same way, the Raman spectra of the carbon soot under 3
From the Raman spectra, the vertical distributions of G/D ratio for the soot produced under the three gravitational conditions were evaluated and are shown in figure 17 (Tan & Mieno, 2010a). This G/D ratio indicates the relative content of SWNTs in the produced soot, because the disordered carbon impurity emits the D-band signal. We can find that the G/D ratios under 3
3.3. Production under steady-state magnetic field
After considering the control of gas flow around the arc plasma, it was found that a steady-state magnetic field applies a
Control of the reaction conditions in the hot gas phase is important for the production of high-quality SWNTs, because the analysis and control of the production process of SWNTs have not yet been investigated. Now, to improve the production of longer and high-quality SWNTs, a basic study of the production process is necessary. Here, the effects of zero-gravity, high-gravity and the
I would like to thank Mr. N. Matsumoto for his collaboration as a graduate student. This study was partly supported by Japan Space Forum (JSF), ISAS/JAXA and The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science &Technology (MEXT), Japan.
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