Research was conducted by the Bureau of Mines to develop a technique to grow metallic fibers from a sulfide mineral. In this research, chalcopyrite (cufes2) was made sulfur deficient, and the remaining sulfur partitioned to the iron in the mineral to liberate metallic copper, or to the copper to liberate metallic iron. The metals formed on the surface as fibers and in the interior as spherical particles. Fiber growth is very fast. Lengths of 3 to 4 cm form in a matter of minutes, and the diameter of individual fibers is less than 1 um. The mechanism of fiber growth is explained, and the reactions are reversible as predicted. Copper fibers can be made to grow from the surface at 400 deg c or to dissolve back onto the solid surface and be replaced by iron fibers at 625 deg c. Growth and dissolution can also be controlled to form copper/iron duplex fibers.
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