My research in carbon nanomaterials is primarily aimed at optimizing carbon deposition rate in order to scale production. Deposition is accomplished through the decomposition of ethylene over palladium, nickel, cobalt, iron, etc. The carbon is deposited in the form of thin films or nanoscale fibers. The catalyst characteristics, temperature, gas composition, and other factors will dictate the result. The process to create bulk parts is remarkably simple, and there is no fundamental limit to the scale.
While improving deposition rate is key, controlling the size, morphology and crystallinity of the fibers is also important. By engineering the catalyst composition and microstructure, it is possible that higher selectivity can be achieved while simultaneously enhancing the activity.
An additional area of interest is understanding the bulk phenomena involved in space-filling with these nanostructures. There is little work done on bulk formation and entanglement of carbon nanofibers, so establishing the behavior of partially confined fiber growth is a key focus of the research. Below is an example of carbon nanofibers grown through catalytic deposition.
Related publications are listed below (for full list, see Publications).
This work is supported through the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) Division of NSF (Award # 1436444).
Carbon Nanofiber Publications:
- Laura Guevara, Crystal Wanner, Roger Welsh, Mark Atwater. Using Mechanical Alloying to Create Bimetallic Catalysts for Vapor-Phase Carbon Nanofiber Synthesis. Fibers; 3 (4), pp. 394-410 (2015)
- Arash K Mousavi, Mark A Atwater, Behnam K Mousavi, Mohammad Jalalpour, Mahmoud Reda Taha, Zayd C Leseman. Mechanical and Electrical Characterization of Entangled Networks of Carbon Nanofibers. Materials; 7 (6), pp. 4845-4853 (2014)
- Mark A. Atwater, Arash K. Mousavi, Jonathan Phillips, Zayd C. Leseman. Direct Synthesis of Nanoscale Carbon Nonwovens by Catalytic Deposition. Carbon; 57 pp. 363-370 (2013)
- Mark A. Atwater, Jonathan Phillips, Zayd C. Leseman. Accelerated growth of carbon nanofibers using physical mixtures and alloys of Pd and Co in an ethylene–hydrogen environment. Carbon; 49(4) pp. 1058-1066 (2011)
- Mark A. Atwater, Jonathan Phillips, Zayd C. Leseman. The effect of powder sintering on the palladium-catalyzed formation of carbon nanofibers from ethylene-oxygen mixtures. Carbon; 48(7) pp. 1932-1938 (2010)
- Mark A. Atwater, Jonathan Phillips, Zayd C. Leseman. Formation of carbon nanofibers and thin films catalyzed by palladium in ethylene-hydrogen mixtures. Journal of Physical Chemistry: C; 114(13) pp. 5804–5810 (2010)
- Mark A. Atwater, Jonathan Phillips, Stephen K. Doorn, Claudia C. Luhrs, Y. Fernández, J.A. Menéndez, Zayd C. Leseman . The production of carbon nanofibers and thin films on palladium catalysts from ethylene-oxygen mixtures. Carbon; 47(9) pp.2269-2280 (2009)
- Mark A. Atwater, Jonathan Phillips, Zayd C. Leseman. Controlling carbon nanofiber morphology for improved composite reinforcement. International Journal of Materials and Structural Integrity; 3(2-3) pp. 179-186 (2009)