Nanoscale mechanisms of CNT growth and etching in plasma environment

U Khalilov and A Bogaerts and S Hussain and E Kovacevic and P Brault and C Boulmer-Leborgne and EC Neyts, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS D-APPLIED PHYSICS, 50, 184001 (2017).

DOI: 10.1088/1361-6463/aa6733

Plasma-enhanced chemical deposition (PECVD) of carbon nanotubes has already been shown to allow chirality control to some extent. In PECVD, however, etching may occur simultaneously with the growth, and the occurrence of intermediate processes further significantly complicates the growth process. We here employ a computational approach with experimental support to study the plasma-based formation of Ni nanoclusters, Ni-catalyzed CNT growth and subsequent etching processes, in order to understand the underpinning nanoscale mechanisms. We find that hydrogen is the dominant factor in both the re-structuring of a Ni film and the subsequent appearance of Ni nanoclusters, as well as in the CNT nucleation and etching processes. The obtained results are compared with available theoretical and experimental studies and provide a deeper understanding of the occurring nanoscale mechanisms in plasma-assisted CNT nucleation and growth.

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