Rapidly functionalized, water-dispersed carbon nanotubes at high concentration

Yubing Wang, Zafar Iqbal, Somenath Mitra

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Microwave-assisted functionalization of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids was carried out to synthesize highly water-dispersible nanotubes. Stable concentrations as high as 10 mg/mL were obtained in deionized water that are nearly 2 orders of magnitude higher than those previously reported. This was after only 3 min of functionalization reaction. Fourier transform infrared spectra showed the presence of carboxylated (-COOH) and acid sulfonated (-SO2·OH or -SO3 H+) groups on the SWNTs. On the basis of elemental analysis, it was estimated that one out of three carbon atoms was carboxylated, while one out of 10 carbon atoms was sulfonated. The Raman spectra taken both in aqueous dispersion and in the solid phase indicated charge transfer from the SWNT backbone to the functional groups. Scanning electron microscope images of thin films deposited from an aqueous suspension showed that the SWNTs were aligned parallel to one another on the substrate. The images also indicated some reduction in average length of the nanotubes. Transmission electron microscope images of thin films from a dilute methanol dispersion showed that the SWNTs were extensively debundled. Laser light scattering particle size measurements did not show evidence for the existence of particles in the 3-800 nm size range, Indicating that the functionalized SWNTs might have dispersed to have formed a true solution. Moreover, the microwave-processed SWNTs were found to contain significantly smaller amounts of the original iron catalyst relative to that present in the starting nanotubes. The electrical conductivity of a thermally annealed thin membrane obtained from the microwave-functionalized SWNTs was found to be the same as that of a similar membrane obtained from a suspension of the starting nanotubes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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