Growth modes and chiral selectivity of single-walled carbon nanotubes†
Chemical vapor deposition synthesis of single-walled carbon nanotubes, using an Fe catalyst, and alternating methane and carbon monoxide as carbon feedstocks, leads to the reversible formation of junctions between tubes of different diameters. Combined with an atomistic modeling of the tube/catalyst interface, this shows that the ratio of diameters of the tube and its seeding particle, denoting the growth mode, depends on the carbon fraction inside the catalyst. With carbon monoxide, nanoparticles are strongly carbon enriched, and tend to dewet the tube, in a perpendicular growth mode. Cross-checking our results with the available reports from the literature of the last decade strongly suggests that these latter conditions should favor the near armchair chiral selectivity observed empirically.