Reaction Kinetics and Structural Evolution for the Formation of Nanocrystalline Silicon Carbide via Carbothermal Reduction
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Nanocrystalline beta-silicon carbide (ß-SiC) was synthesized at relatively low temperature (<1300C) by carbothermal reduction (CTR) reaction in fine scale carbon/silica mixtures. The fine scale mixing of the reactants (i.e., carbon and silica) was achieved by solution-based processing and subsequent heat treatment. The mechanism of the CTR reaction in the current system was investigated from different aspects. The condensates of the volatile species generated during the CTR reaction was collected and analyzed. The results supported previous investigations which suggested that the CTR reaction is a multi-step process that involves silicon monoxide (SiO) vapor as a reaction intermediate. The kinetics of the CTR reaction was investigated by isothermal weight loss study and by the study which determined the amount of SiC formed via quantitative X- ray diffraction (QXRD) analysis. The results of kinetic study were consistent with the "shrinking-core" model, in which the reaction between SiO vapor and carbon at the carbon surface to produce SiC is the rate-controlling step. In addition, several techniques, including XRD, gas adsorption analysis, laser diffraction particle size analysis, SEM, TEM, etc., had been used to study the structural evolutions of the reaction product of CTR. It was demonstrated that the evolutions of product structure characteristics such as crystallite size, specific surface area, specific pore volume, pore size distribution, particle size distribution, and powder morphology, etc. were consistent with each other and provided support to the reaction mechanism proposed.