Microwave plasma-based high temperature dehydrogenation of hydrocarbons and alcohols as a single route to highly efficient gas phase synthesis of freestanding graphene
Abstract: Understanding underlying processes behind the simple and easily scalable graphene synthesis methods enables their large-scale deployment in the emerging energy storage and printable device applications. Microwave plasma decomposition of organic precursors forms a high-temperature environment, above 3000 K, where the process of catalyst-free dehydrogenation and consequent formation of C2 molecules leads to nucleation and growth of high-quality few-layer graphene (FLG). In this work, we show experimental evidence that a high-temperature environment with a gas mixture of H2 and acetylene, C2H2, leads to a transition from amorphous to highly crystalline material proving the suggested dehydrogenation mechanism. The overall conversion efficiency of carbon to FLG reached up to 47 %, three times as much as for methane or ethanol, and increased with increasing microwave power (i.e. with the size of the high-temperature zone) and hydrocarbon flow rate. The yield decreased with decreasing C:H ratio while the best quality FLG (low D/G - 0.5 and high 2D/G - 1.5 Raman band ratio) was achieved for C:H ratio of 1:3. The structures contained less than 1 at% of oxygen. No additional hydrogen was necessary for the synthesis of FLG from higher alcohols having the same stoichiometry, 1-propanol and isopropanol, but the yield was lower, 15 %, and dependent on the atom arrangement of the precursor. The prepared FLG nanopowder was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, Raman, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and thermogravimetry. Microwave plasma was monitored by optical emission spectroscopy.
Keywords: graphene / alcohols / acetylene / structures / FLG / dehydrogenation / Microwave / high temperature / precursors
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