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Diagnostics of Carbon Nanotube Formation in a Laser Produced Plume: An Investigation of the Metal Catalyst by Laser Ablation Atomic Fluorescence SpectroscopyCarbon nanotubes, elongated molecular tubes with diameters of nanometers and lengths in microns, hold great promise for material science. Hopes for super strong light-weight material to be used in spacecraft design is the driving force behind nanotube work at JSC. The molecular nature of these materials requires the appropriate tools for investigation of their structure, properties, and formation. The mechanism of nanotube formation is of particular interest because it may hold keys to controlling the formation of different types of nanotubes and allow them to be produced in much greater quantities at less cost than is currently available. This summer's work involved the interpretation of data taken last summer and analyzed over the academic year. The work involved diagnostic studies of carbon nanotube formation processes occurring in a laser-produced plume. Laser ablation of metal doped graphite to produce a plasma plume in which carbon nanotubes self assemble is one method of making carbon nanotube. The laser ablation method is amenable to applying the techniques of laser spectroscopy, a powerful tool for probing the energies and dynamics of atomic and molecular species. The experimental work performed last summer involved probing one of the metal catalysts, nickel, by laser induced fluorescence. The nickel atom was studied as a function of oven temperature, probe laser wavelength, time after ablation, and position in the laser produced plume. This data along with previously obtained data on carbon was analyzed over the academic year. Interpretations of the data were developed this summer along with discussions of future work. The temperature of the oven in which the target is ablated greatly influences the amount of material ablated and the propagation of the plume. The ablation conditions and the time scale of atomic and molecular lifetimes suggest that initial ablation of the metal doped carbon target results in atomic and small molecular species. The metal atoms survive for several milliseconds while the gaseous carbon atoms and small molecules nucleate more rapidly. Additional experiments and the development of in situ methods for carbon nanotube detection would allow these results to be interpreted from the perspective of carbon nanotube formation.
Document ID
Document Type
deBoer, Gary
(LeTourneau Univ. Longview, TX, United States)
Scott, Carl
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program - 2000
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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