Enrichment mechanism of semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes by surfactant amines

Sang Yong Ju, Marcel Utz, Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Utilization of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in high-end applications hinges on separating metallic (met-) from semiconducting (sem-) SWNTs. Surfactant amines, like octadecylamine (ODA) have proven instrumental for the selective extraction of sem-SWNTs from tetrahydrofuran (THF) nanotube suspensions. The chemical shift differences along the tail of an asymmetric, diacetylenic surfactant amine were used to probe the molecular dynamics in the presence and absence of nanotubes via NMR. The results suggest that the surfactant amine head is firmly immobilized onto the nanotube surface together with acidic water, while the aliphatic tail progressively gains larger mobility as it gets farther from the SWNT. X-ray and high-resolution TEM studies indicate that the sem-enriched sample is populated mainly by small nanotube bundles containing ca. three SWNTs. Molecular simulations in conjunction with previously determined HNO 3/H 2SO 4 oxidation depths for met- and sem-SWNTs indicate that the strong pinning of the amine surfactants on the sem-enriched SWNTs bundles is a result of a well-ordered arrangement of nitrate/amine salts separated with a monomolecular layer of H 2O. Such continuous 2D arrangement of nitrate/amine salts shields the local environment adjacent to sem-enriched SWNTs bundles and maintains an acidic pH that preserves nanotube oxidation (i.e., SWNT n+). This, in turn, results in strong interactions with charge-balancing NO 3 - counterions that through their association with neutralized surfactant amines provide effective THF dispersion and consequent sem enrichment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6775-6784
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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