Cost-Effective Thermomechanical Synthesis and Characterization of Complex Carbon Nanostructures for Structural Applications
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This work surrounds the characterization of fullerene soot subjected to an in situ thermomechanical process where transformations and evolution towards the synthesis of diamond, carbon nanotubes, carbon nano-onions, graphene-like, and graphitic carbon nano particles occurred. The motivation behind this work was the discovery of the mechanism that promotes the synthesis of complex carbon nanostructures. The fullerene soot, a quasi-amorphous matter, is a byproduct obtained from the synthesis of fullerene also known as buckminsterfullerene, a molecule composed of 60 atoms of carbon forming a soccer-ball shape with an atom in each corner (Holister, 2003). Transition metals, namely iron and nickel, were added due to their inherit catalytic character in order to enhance the synthesis of various carbon nanostructures. Mechanical milling over varied times demonstrated that this was the best method to record a transformation of the fullerene soot into a more complex graphene-like, graphitic carbon, and nanostructured diamond. The characterizations methods include: Raman spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM). In addition, applying heat treatments or spark plasma sintering processes to the milled products further solidified the conclusion of complex structures found within the samples. The results shall demonstrate that by employing a readily and commercially available mechanical process, a material with outstanding characteristics can be produced by using byproducts of an already stable process. The resulting material from this project can be of great structural value.