This image illustrates how researchers use an airbrush to grow vertically aligned carbon nanofibers. Click to enlarge.
"Because we're using an airbrush, this technique could easily be incorporated into large-scale, high-throughput manufacturing processes," says Dr.
"It's common to use nickel nanoparticles as catalysts to grow carbon nanofibers, and we were able to coat metal substrates with nickel nanoparticles using an airbrush," says Dr.
After applying the nickel nanoparticles, the researchers airbrushed the substrate with a layer of silicon powder and heated the coated substrate to 600 degrees Celsius in a reactor filled with acetylene and ammonia gas. In the reactor, carbon nanofibers formed under the nickel nanoparticles and were held upright by a silicon-enriched coating. The finished product resembles a forest of nanofibers running perpendicular to the substrate. The researchers tested this technique successfully on aluminum, copper and titanium substrates.
"Growing carbon nanofibers on a metal substrate means the interface between the two materials is highly conductive, which makes the product more useful as an electrode material for use in a range of potential applications," says
The paper, " Airbrushed Nickel Nanoparticles for Large-Area Growth of Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanofibers on
Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.
"Airbrushed Nickel Nanoparticles for Large-Area Growth of Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanofibers on
Published : online
DOI : 10.1021/am401889t
Abstract: Vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (VACNFs) were grown by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) using Ni nanoparticle (NP) catalysts that were deposited by airbrushing onto Si, Al, Cu, and Ti substrates. Airbrushing is a simple method for depositing catalyst NPs over large areas that is compatible with roll-to-roll processing. The distribution and morphology of VACNFs are affected by the airbrushing parameters and the composition of the metal foil. Highly concentrated Ni NPs in heptane give more uniform distributions than pentane and hexanes, resulting in more uniform coverage of VACNFs. For VACNF growth on metal foils, Si micropowder was added as a precursor for Si-enriched coatings formed in situ on the VACNFs that impart mechanical rigidity. Interactions between the catalyst NPs and the metal substrates impart control over the VACNF morphology. Growth of carbon nanostructures on Cu is particularly noteworthy because the miscibility of Ni with Cu poses challenges for VACNF growth, and carbon nanostructures anchored to Cu substrates are desired as anode materials for Li-ion batteries and for thermal interface materials.
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