Carbon is an element in the periodic table known for its reactivity and ability to form various compounds. University of Science and Technology, China has proposed an effective strategy to make nano-materials from carbon. The compounds of carbon are durable and strong, hence scientists keep researching to identify ways of incorporating them into practical application.
CMs were traditionally prepared by the method of carbonization. Vapors were produced under low pressure by natural products as well as synthetic polymers.
The major disadvantage of the synthesis of carbon microstructures is that it is difficult to compose them. The process of slow polymerization is complex and needs a highly controlled environment. Preparation of such structures on a large scale is an even bigger challenge.
Professor Yu Shuhong and Professor Liang Haiwei have proposed a simple but effective method to synthesize carbon polymers with different functions. The feature of versatility is unique to the small organic molecules manufactured using a transition metal in the carbonization process.
These small organic molecules offer various advantages like low cost, diverse species, easy availability and many more. The transformation of SOMs into CMs has been attempted earlier as well. It was performed using harsh synthetic chemicals and procedures. But this method of transition devised by the two scientists utilizes a transition metal for the process of carbonization. It acts as a catalyst and forms a thermally stable intermediate structure of polymer which on sublimation yields CMs. A total of 15 SOMs – small organic molecules (to work as the raw material) and 9 TMSs – tetramethylsilane - (catalyst for synthesis) are required to synthesize CMs.
The end product has three different microstructures:
1. Bamboo-like multi-walled carbon nanotube,
2. Micrometer-sized nanosheets
3. Irregular particles
The structures of CMs produced are highly dependent on the molecular structures of SOMs. Along with that, there are specific characteristics that CMs possess. These include high specific surface areas, large pore volumes, abundant hetero atoms and high levels of graphite in structures.
Owing to the different properties and various applications, CMs are prominently being researched upon. They show great potential for application as a catalyst for heterogeneous reactions to manufacture other compounds. They can work well for oxidization of ethylbenzene as well as hydrogenation of nitrobenzene. Also, the electrocatalysis is open as a possibility for CMs. Hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen reduction reaction are some examples. The processes offer us the vision to see through a new window for the synthesis desired constituents and structures.