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Debundling and Dissolution of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Amide Solvents

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journal contribution
posted on 19.05.2004, 00:00 by C. A. Furtado, U. J. Kim, H. R. Gutierrez, Ling Pan, E. C. Dickey, Peter C. Eklund
Wet chemical methods involving ultrasound and amide solvents were used to purify and separate large bundles of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) into individual nanotubes that could then be transported to silicon or mica substrates. The SWNTs studied were produced by the arc-discharge process. Dry oxidation was used in an initial step to remove amorphous carbon. Subsequently, two acid purification schemes were investigated (HCl- and HNO3-reflux) to remove the metal growth catalyst (Ni−Y). Finally, ultrasonic dispersion of isolated tubes into either N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) or N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) was carried out. Raman scattering, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and electron microscopy were used to study the evolution of the products. Raman scattering was used to probe possible wall damage during the chemical processing. We found that both HCl and HNO3 could be used to successfully remove the Ni−Y below ∼1 wt %. However, the HNO3-reflux produced significant wall damage (that could be reversed by vacuum annealing at 1000 °C). In the dispersion step, both amide solvents (DMF and NMP) produced a high degree of isolated tubes in the final product, and no damage during this dispersion step was observed. HNO3-refluxed tubes were found to disperse the best into the amide solvents, perhaps because of significant wall functionalization. AFM was used to study the filament diameter and length distributions in the final product, and interesting differences in these distributions were observed, depending on the chemical processing route.