Imaging the atomic structure of activated carbon
Harris, P. J. F., Liu, Z. and Suenaga, K. (2008) Imaging the atomic structure of activated carbon. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 20 (36). 362201. ISSN 1361-648X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/20/36/362201
The precise atomic structure of activated carbon is unknown, despite its huge commercial importance in the purification of air and water. Diffraction methods have been extensively applied to the study of microporous carbons, but cannot provide an unequivocal identification of their structure. Here we show that the structure of a commercial activated carbon can be imaged directly using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy. Images are presented both of the as-produced carbon and of the carbon following heat treatment at 2000 degrees C. In the 2000 degrees C carbon clear evidence is found for the presence of pentagonal rings, suggesting that the carbons have a fullerene-related structure. Such a structure would help to explain the properties of activated carbon, and would also have important implications for the modelling of adsorption on microporous carbons.