This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to identify and eliminate the sources of defect formation in a novel graphitic fiber called Vapor Grown Carbon Fiber (VGCF). VGCF possesses engineering properties that equal or greatly exceed other types of carbon fiber, as well as metals. Additionally, VGCF can be produced in a simple, rapid and inexpensive chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process, thus holding potential to greatly reduce the cost of high performance carbon fiber reinforcements. However, the usefulness of VGCF is currently limited by batch-mode production which yields a large variation in physical properties both within the batch, as well as between batches. Consequently, the fibers are not sufficiently predictable to commit to critical engineering applications. The proposed research effort will seek to identify the source of variations in fiber quality, and to eliminate the variations through refinements in the CVD process. Specifically, this effort will investigate the relationship between variation in fiber properties and the occurrence of a particular morphological feature of the fibers called crenulations, and then determine those process variables whose careful control will best narrow the range of values of the fiber properties. Optimization of these variables and development of techniques to better control them, especially during higher volume production, will be the intended focus of the associated Phase II effort.