The role of the catalyst in the growth of one-dimensional nanostructures
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Quasi one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures show great promise for many applications, including in solar cells, nanogenerators and chemical sensors, due to the high surface-to-volume ratio and unique properties of nanostructures. The growth of these nanostructures is commonly catalyzed by metal nanoparticles and generally attributed to the vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) mechanism. The purpose of this research is to better understand the role of the catalyst nanoparticles in the growth of 1D nanostructures, in order to allow improved control of the synthesis process. To this end, nanostructures were grown with a variety of compositions, including Au- and Sn-catalyzed ZnO, Au-catalyzed FexOy and Au-catalyzed Si nanostructures. The morphology of the nanostructures was characterized with electron microscopy, and the crystallographic orientation with X-ray texture analysis. The catalyst particles were further characterized with both in-situ and post-growth X-ray diffraction. The types of bonding in the source material and catalyst play a significant role in the diffusion path of the source material to the growth front and in the catalyst particle state during growth. Dissimilar bonding types in the source material and catalyst prevent bulk diffusion of the source material through the catalyst, thereby preventing eutectic melting of the catalyst. These results bring new insight into the catalyzed growth of 1D nanostructures and assist in the informed choice of appropriate catalyst materials, which may aid the utilization of 1D nanostructures in energy-related and other applications.