Influence of the catalyst type on the growth of carbon nanotubes via methane chemical vapor deposition.

Research paper by Lucie L Jodin, Anne-Claire AC Dupuis, Emmanuelle E Rouvière, Peter P Reiss

Indexed on: 08 Apr '06Published on: 08 Apr '06Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry B


The preparation of the catalyst is one of the key parameters which governs the quality of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) grown by catalyzed chemical vapor deposition (CVD). We investigated the influence of three different procedures of catalyst preparation on the type and diameter of CNTs formed under identical growth conditions via methane CVD. In the first one, chemically synthesized colloidal iron oxide or iron molybdenum alloy nanoparticles were used, which were homogeneously deposited on silicon substrates by spin coating to prevent them from coalescence under CVD growth conditions. The obtained multiwall CNTs (MWNTs) exhibited diameters corresponding to the catalyst particle size, whereas no formation of single-wall CNTs (SWNTs) was observed. In the second method, commercial porous alumina nanoparticles were used in association with iron and molybdenum salts and the Fe/Mo catalyst was formed in situ. We determined that the alumina concentration significantly influenced the morphology of the catalyst and that below a critical value of the range of 1 g/L no CNTs were formed. While yielding nearly defect-free SWNTs, their diameter could not be controlled using this procedure, resulting in a large distribution of tube sizes. In a third, new preparation method, associating alumina and iron-based nanoparticles, SWNTs of a different size and narrower diameter distribution as compared to the second method were obtained. Our results are evidence of the essential role of alumina particles in the formation of SWNTs, and the newly developed method opens up a way to the synthesis of diameter-controlled SWNTs via catalyzed CVD.