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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Jack Peden


  Engineering, Darwin College

  PhD thesis: Towards creating the strongest fibre ever made.



Research interests:

  1. Nanotube/nanomaterial synthesis
  2. FC-CVD reactor design
  3. Methane Pyrolysis
  4. Sustainable energy and materials

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are an exciting material due to their exception electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. The floating catalyst chemical vapour deposition (FC-CVD) process for CNT synthesis allows the continuous production of CNT aerogels. These aerogels can be collected directly from the reactor as fibres and mats for use in a range of applications. Since its invention in Cambridge in 2004, the FC-CVD process has been intensively researched leading to breakthroughs in understanding of the physical mechanisms underlying the process. These studies have relied on extractive measurements, but the limitations of such techniques leave blind spots in our understanding of the process.
I aim to develop an optically transparent FC-CVD reactor capable of performing in-situ Raman, FTIR and other measurements of the process. This will allow a more detailed study of the FC-CVD growth process, especially regarding the nature of short-lived radical species that cannot be measured using extractive techniques.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I love exploring the natural world and strive to do my part to protect it, I hope this project can be a step towards this goal. Our process of CNT synthesis converts hydrocarbons (methane) into solid carbon (CNTs) and hydrogen gas that can be used as a clean fuel. Thus, the entire process can act a method of carbon sequestration that simultaneously produces useful materials and clean fuel. However, the process needs to be scaled-up to have an impact on climate change. I hope to develop the understanding we need to scale up our process.