(537c) Annealing Carbon By Pulsed Laser Light | AIChE

(537c) Annealing Carbon By Pulsed Laser Light


Vander Wal, R. - Presenter, Penn State University
Gharpure, A., Penn State University
Laser processing of materials is not new, but, using lasers to anneal, bond and otherwise transform carbons is. Fundamental understanding of the dependence upon carbon structure, morphology and chemistry is critical to implementing this technology into manufacturing and processing applications. In this work a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser and a continuous wave CO2 laserare used to anneal carbon materials. Lasers provide rapid heating and cooling with high temporal control. The extent of transformation is kinetically controlled by time above the threshold temperature for transformation. Enabling the production of carbon structures not possible via traditional furnace annealing. The potential technological importance of laser annealing carbon is demonstrated. Examples of material processing and synthesis not possible via traditional furnace annealing are provided. To resolve the nanostructure changes HRTEM is employed.

Perhaps the most over looked application of laser annealing carbon is the ability to do so continuously and rapidly. Graphitization furnaces operate as a batch processing system. Time from start to completion is on the order of a day due to the slow (~25 °C/min) heating rates, long hold times, and slow cooling of the heavily insulated furnace. Additionally, these furnaces require routine maintenance and replacement of expensive specialty graphite heating elements. CO2 laser annealing provides equivalent material transformation on the order of seconds and modern CO2 lasers are designed for years of maintenance free use [1]. Although laser annealing is limited to thinner material due to limited heating depth, materials can be annealed continuously and with potentially high throughput.

The material was heated to 2,600 °C in 1.4 ms Under the action CO2 laser radiation carbon can be heated to 2,600 °C in 1.4 ms. After 20 s, the structure is equivalent to that obtained from furnace annealing at 2,600 °C for 1 hr. as has been shown elsewhere [2]. In contrast a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser with pulse width ~ 8 ns heats carbon materials to graphitization temperatures with a heating rate on the order of a few 1011 °C/s. The peak temperature is controlled by the laser pulse energy; typical temperatures range between 2,500 °C to the C2 sublimation temperature of 4,184 °C [2,3]. The time at elevated temperature is limited (time above 2,000 °C is 1.5 µs). On this time scale, the long-range material motions are kinetically restricted. Consequently the Nd:YAG laser annealing trajectory deviates from traditional furnace pathways. The limited time at elevated temperature can be used for the purpose of surface modification. Surface modification via kinetically limited oxidation is one potential application. Another application is making connections between carbons without additional material. Laser sintering a mixture of carbon materials could result in a wide range of potential applications.

Heat-Treatment-Temperature (HTT) and resulting carbon structural transformation has been extensively studied. A detailed quantification of HTT and resulting material annealing was provided by Oberlin in 1984 [4]. The four stages outlined in Oberlin's HTT diagram (temperature dependent) are believed to be separated by "very rapid" transitions [8]. So rapid, in fact, that intermediate structures are not observable on furnace heating timescales (several minutes minimum) due to slow ramp rates and have thus been ignored. These intermediate structures remain unexplored and represent an entirely new class of carbon materials. It has been demonstrated that CO2 laser heating results in equivalent end structure as compared to furnace annealing [1]. The high temporal control of CO2 laser annealing allows for exploration of such intermediate structures that can be captured by the rapid heating and cooling timescales. In summary lasers are poised to be instrumental in the advancement of carbon science and technology.


[1] J.P. Abrahamson, Pulsed laser annealing of carbon, Ph.D. Thesis, Penn State, 2017.

[2] J.P. Abrahamson, M. Singh, J.P. Mathews, R.L. Vander Wal, Pulsed laser annealing of carbon black, Carbon 124 (2017) 380–390. doi:10.1016/j.carbon.2017.08.080.

[3] H.A. Michelsen, C. Schulz, G.J. Smallwood, S. Will, Laser-induced incandescence: Particulate diagnostics for combustion, atmospheric, and industrial applications, Prog. Energy Combust. Sci. 51 (2015) 2–48. doi:10.1016/j.pecs.2015.07.001.

[4] A. Oberlin, Carbonization and graphitization, Carbon 22 (1984) 521–541. doi:10.1016/0008-6223(84)90086-1.