Despite intensive research on the encapsulation of metal nanoparticles into carbon clusters deposited by arc discharge, the detailed pathways of the formation of these novel forms of materials remain unclear. The growth of a rich variety of morphologies is not well understood. Studies are reported here on the growth phenomena of different metals encapsulated into carbon cages that emphasize the effect of carbon and metal supply on the size of particles. Post-deposition annealing was introduced as a process that induces structural rearrangements, and thus enables changes in morphologies. A set of carbon encapsulated Ni, Co, Cu, and Ti particles were prepared by an arc discharge process modified in the geometry of the anode and flow pattern of helium or methane gas. The samples were then annealed under flowing argon gas. Three annealing temperatures were used (600, 900, and 1100 °C). Samples were characterized by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Particles made under the same experimental conditions are of roughly the same size. When the supply of metal in the reactor space was increased by using a larger diameter of the metal pool, the average diameter of the particles is bigger than those of produced from the smaller metal pool. The thickness of the carbon cages of Ni and Co particles increased during the annealing. The carbon cages of Cu particles, however, did not change their thickness, while some carbon coatings of Ti particles disappeared under annealing. This suggests that the addition of layers for the Ni and Co cages results from a precipitation of carbon previously dissolved in the metal, while the much lower solubility of C in Cu prevents this possibility. The Ti of high reactivity, on the other hand, may further react with the available carbon under annealing to form TiC. It is suggested that annealing provides additional thermal energy that makes structural re-arrangement possible long after the initial deposition process was terminated. This may explain the rich variety of morphologies of deposit obtained at different locations of the reaction chamber.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)