Purification of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes by Controlling the Adsorbability onto Agarose Gels Using Deoxycholate

One of the key challenges to the industrialization of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) is the commercial-scale production of highly purified SWCNTs separated into metallic and semiconducting species. In the present study, the purification of SWCNTs, i.e., the removal of amorphous carbon or bundled SWCNTs, was performed by quantifying and controlling their adsorbability onto agarose gel. The quantification of the adsorbability was achieved by assuming the Langmuir isotherm, and control over the adsorbability was exerted using 0.05–1% sodium deoxycholate (DOC). The results show that the adsorbability depends on the concentration of DOC. At a low DOC concentration (approximately 0.05%), impurities such as amorphous carbon or bundled SWCNTs were preferentially adsorbed onto the gels, whereas, at an intermediate DOC concentration (ca. 0.25%), high-purity SWCNTs were mainly adsorbed onto the gels. Thus, the impurities, which are difficult to remove by conventional methods, could be separated from unpurified SWCNTs by controlling the adsorbability, leading to the extraction of high-purity SWCNTs. In the purification, diameter-selective separation of SWCNTs was also observed. The purification method using a gel column can be conducted simply and continuously, so that it can be applied for the high-throughput production of high-purity SWCNTs.