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Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Probed with Insulator-Based Dielectrophoresis

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posted on 13.11.2017, 00:00 by Mohammad Towshif Rabbani, Christoph F. Schmidt, Alexandra Ros
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) offer unique electrical and optical properties. Common synthesis processes yield SWNTs with large length polydispersity (several tens of nanometers up to centimeters) and heterogeneous electrical and optical properties. Applications often require suitable selection and purification. Dielectrophoresis is one manipulation method for separating SWNTs based on dielectric properties and geometry. Here, we present a study of surfactant and single-stranded DNA-wrapped SWNTs suspended in aqueous solutions manipulated by insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP). This method allows us to manipulate SWNTs with the help of arrays of insulating posts in a microfluidic device around which electric field gradients are created by the application of an electric potential to the extremities of the device. Semiconducting SWNTs were imaged during dielectrophoretic manipulation with fluorescence microscopy making use of their fluorescence emission in the near IR. We demonstrate SWNT trapping at low-frequency alternating current (AC) electric fields with applied potentials not exceeding 1000 V. Interestingly, suspended SWNTs showed both positive and negative dielectrophoresis, which we attribute to their ζ potential and the suspension properties. Such behavior agrees with common theoretical models for nanoparticle dielectrophoresis. We further show that the measured ζ potentials and suspension properties are in excellent agreement with a numerical model predicting the trapping locations in the iDEP device. This study is fundamental for the future application of low-frequency AC iDEP for technological applications of SWNTs.

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