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Carbon material synthesis

Gas-phase carbon network growth

Gas-phase carbon material synthesis approaches: (a) flame synthesis, (b) plasma reforming

Carbon materials (and nanomaterials) never lack spotlight. The enthusiasm reached its peak, arguably, when the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the two-dimensional material graphene. A variety of carbon materials have been discovered in the past few decades, and numerous superior properties and application potentials are promised. While many current synthesis methods suffer from low yield, poor quality, and requirement of expensive substrate materials and complex separation procedures, gas-phase substrate-free routes of producing tailored carbon structures are expected to be one of the viable paths that can potentially bring such materials from lab environment to industrial-scale production. The current research aims to explore the gas-phase carbon network growth mechanism and identify magic knob(s) which can be dialed to selectively generate carbon materials between flat sheets (graphene-like) and highly curved structures (fullerene-like). Both flame synthesis and plasma reforming will be utilized experimentally, coupled with thermodynamic/kinetic analyses and molecular dynamic simulations.

Optical properties of carbon nanoparticles

Various carbon structures

The electronic and optical properties of flame-generated carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) are important in performing measurements of soot formation in flames. A size-resolved modeling of electronic and optical properties of small soot particles was proposed based on quantum confinement and amorphous semiconductor theories. The modeling of soot particles as quantum dots is strongly supported by the recent experimental evidence that for those particles in the volume median diameter range of 4-23 nm, the ionization energies and optical band gaps exhibit particle size dependence that can be well described by the quantum confinement effect (Liu et al., PNAS 116 (2019) 12692–12697). The model results reveal that the imaginary component of soot reflective index is shown to exhibit strong sensitivity toward particle size, and such an effect must be considered in future laser diagnostics of flame soot. Further investigation is needed to elucidate the effect of other factors such as composition that can operate in tandem with the size effect. The fluorescence behaviors of soot particles are currently under investigation as well.