On the plasma-based growth of 'flowing' graphene sheets at atmospheric pressure conditions
Luhrs, Claudia C.
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A theoretical and experimental study on atmospheric pressure microwave plasma-based assembly of free standing graphene sheets is presented. The synthesis method is based on introducing a carbon-containing precursor (C₂H₅OH) through a microwave (2.45 GHz) argon plasma environment, where decomposition of ethanol molecules takes place and carbon atoms and molecules are created and then converted into solid carbon nuclei in the ‘colder’ nucleation zones. A theoretical model previously developed has been further updated and refined to map the particle and thermal fluxes in the plasma reactor. Considering the nucleation process as a delicate interplay between thermodynamic and kinetic factors, the model is based on a set of non-linear differential equations describing plasma thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. The model predictions were validated by experimental results. Optical emission spectroscopy was applied to detect the plasma emission related to carbon species from the ‘hot’ plasma zone. Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) techniques have been applied to analyze the synthesized nanostructures. The microstructural features of the solid carbon nuclei collected from the colder zones of plasma reactor vary according to their location. A part of the solid carbon was deposited on the discharge tube wall. The solid assembled from the main stream, which was gradually withdrawn from the hot plasma region in the outlet plasma stream directed to a filter, was composed by ‘flowing’ graphene sheets. The influence of additional hydrogen, Ar flow rate and microwave power on the concentration of obtained stable species and carbon−dicarbon was evaluated. The ratio of sp³/sp² carbons in graphene sheets is presented. A correlation between changes in C₂ and C number densities and sp³/sp² ratio was found.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0963-0252/25/1/015013
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