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Solubility of carbon nanotubes

  • Marc In Het Panhuis (a1), Jonathan N. Coleman (a1) and Werner J. Blau (a1)

Abstract

We have described a novel experimental technique to separate nanotubes from other unwanted carbon species in arc generated carbon soot. A conjugated polymer was used to bind to nanotubes in solution. The resultant hybrid was soluble while extraneous carbon material formed a sediment at the bottom of the sample bottle. This process was monitored using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) which showed that 63% of nanotubes were kept in solution while 98.1% of impurities were rejected. Optimal polymer characteristics for nanotube solubility were identified using geometry optimisation and experimental evidence. It was calculated that a successful polymer has a flat shaped helical backbone with solvent solubilising groups projected outwards. This is achieved with the following polymer characteristics, two solvent solubilising groups on a twist allowing π-conjugated backbone.

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