Testing multiwall carbon nanotubes on ion erosion for advanced space propulsion

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Are carbon nanotubes more resistant than diamonds against ion erosion? Here, we report an evaluation of multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) as the protective coating against plasma erosion in advanced space propulsion systems. We have compared polycrystalline diamond films with MWNTs, amorphous carbon (a-C) and boron nitride (BN) films. Two types of MWNTs were investigated including vertically aligned (VA) MWNTs, and those horizontally laid on the substrate surfaces. Only diamond films and VA-MWNTs survived erosion by 250 eV krypton ions of a flight-quality Hall-effect thruster. VA-MWNTs are found to bundle at their tips after ion erosion.

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© Materials Research Society 2004. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-821-P3.7

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Symposium P – Nanoscale Materials & Modeling-Relations Among Processing, Microstructure and Mechanical Properties