Liquid Carbon, Carbon-Glass Beads, and the Crystallization of Carbon Nanotubes

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Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 907-910
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107035

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The formation of carbon nanotubes in a pure carbon arc in a helium atmosphere is found to involve liquid carbon. Electron microscopy shows a viscous liquid-like amorphous carbon layer covering the surfaces of nanotube-containing millimeter-sized columnar structures from which the cathode deposit is composed. Regularly spaced, submicrometer-sized spherical beads of amorphous carbon are often found on the nanotubes at the surfaces of these columns. Apparently, at the anode, liquid-carbon drops form, which acquire a carbon-glass surface due to rapid evaporative cooling. Nanotubes crystallize inside the supercooled, glass-coated liquid-carbon drops. The carbon-glass layer ultimately coats and beads on the nanotubes near the surface.

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