Sulphur has been recognised as a growth promoter for carbon fibres and carbon nanotubes for over 30 years. Moreover, the Fe-C-S system, in particular, has been extensively studied for more than half a century in the fields of steelmaking and cast iron. In the present work we examine the role of sulphur in the iron-catalysed growth of carbon nanotubes during the process of direct spinning of fibres from the gas phase. A detailed microstructural characterisation of the reaction products was conducted by high resolution TEM and EELS composition mapping on a dedicated FEG STEM (VG HB 501) equipped with Cs aberration correctors. Our results agree with previous works in classical metallurgy, indicating that sulphur forms a layer on the surface of the catalyst particles that plays a role in encouraging nanotube growth by surface diffusion.
Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.