Abstract

Nonspherical Al2O3 aggregates produced in a laminar counterflow nonpremixed methane flame were investigated with an in situ laser light-scattering (LLS) technique in combination with a thermophoretic sampling–transmission electron microscope (TS–TEM) method. These flame-synthesized nanoparticles clearly underwent morphological changes following their formation (from precursor trimethylaluminum hydrolysis), mainly as a result of aggregation and sintering processes in the ∼3.3 × 104 K/s heating environment. To characterize this particulate morphological evolution conveniently we made multiangular absolute LLS measurements and interpreted them based on the Rayleigh–Debye–Gans scattering theory for fractal aggregates. Optically determined fractal dimension D f, mean radius of gyration, aggregate size distribution, and local particle volume fraction ϕp were found to be consistent with our independent ex situ TS–TEM experiments. D f (optically inferred) increased from 1.60 to 1.84 with axial position, confirming the morphological evolution of alumina aggregates owing to finite-rate, spatially resolved high-temperature sintering. An extension of our TS–TEM method was successfully applied, for the first time to our knowledge, to inorganic particles. ϕp inferred by means of this ex situ technique generally agreed with that from the in situ LLS technique, supporting our interpretation of both measurements. Moreover, an optically inferred net sintering rate of alumina aggregates approaching the flame was estimated to be consistent with the available TEM data. The LLS methods and results presented here are expected to permit more comprehensive mechanistic analyses of nanoaggregate sintering and coagulation kinetics in such flame environments, ultimately improving the modeling of more-complex (e.g., turbulent, high-pressure) combustion systems involving nanoparticle formation and evolution.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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