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Cutting, Solubilizing and Size-Sorting of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Z. Gu, H. Peng, J. Cratty R. H. Hauge, R. E. Smalley, J. L. Margrave
Dept. of Chemistry, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Rice University, US

Keywords: single-wall carbon nanotubes, cutting, fluorination, solubilizing

The fluorination of purified HiPco single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) to a stoichiometry CFx (x ≤ 0.2) followed by pyrolysis of the partially fluorinated SWNTs up to 1000 oC was found to have “cut” the nanotubes to a range of short lengths (average < 50 nm). The pyrolysis process was monitored in-situ with TGA-FTIR. The fluorine was driven off the nanotube structure in the form of COF2 and CF4. The “cut” nanotubes have been characterized by Raman, ATR-IR, EDAX and AFM measurements. Short bundles composed of strongly interacting individual nanotubes were found in the “cut” nanotube sample. Solubilization of the “cut” nanotubes was achieved by derivatizing them either through re-fluorination (to a stoichiometry C2F) or by refluxing in dilute nitric acid. Such derivatized “cut” SWNTs form a stable suspension in alcohol solvents such as ethanol or isopropanol, through which the size exclusion chromatography (SEC) separation of these short SWNTs bundles was conducted. AFM analysis was used to characterize the fractions from the SEC and the statistical length distribution was obtained. The short lengths and specific reactivities should lead to novel applications for these nanotubes in fields such as microelectronics, drug delivery media and composite materials.

NSTI Nanotech 2003 Conference Technical Program Abstract

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