Characterizing the coating and size-resolved oxidative stability of carbon-coated aluminum nanoparticles by single-particle mass-spectrometry
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Aluminum nanoparticles are of significant interest in enhancing the rate of energy release from propellants. One of the major impediments to their use is that bare aluminum is highly reactive, while oxide coated aluminum significantly decreases overall performance. We investigate creating aluminum nanoparticles with a thin carbon coating using either a laser induced plasma or a DC plasma-arc. The carbon coating was created by injecting ethylene (C2H4) directly downstream of the plasma. The elemental composition of the coated aluminum nanoparticles was measured in real time with a recently developed quantitative single particle mass spectrometer (SPMS). We found that the aluminum nanoparticles were coated with a carbon layer of thickness around 1–3 nm.
The thermal and oxidative stability of these particles was determined by passing the aerosols through a heated flow reactor in a carrier flow of either air or argon, and measuring the aluminum, carbon and oxygen content in the particles with the single particle mass spectrometer. We found that below 700°C the coating was stable, but that the coating oxidized above ∼ ∼800°C. In contrast the carbon coating was thermally stable above ∼ ∼900°C. These results indicate that a carbon coating may be a suitable passivating agent.
Keywordsnanoparticle coating reactivity diagnostics mass spectrometry aerosols
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