Optimizing Surfactant Concentrations for Dispersion of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Aqueous Solution

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    The sonication-centrifugation technique is commonly used for dispersing single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) in aqueous surfactant solutions. However, the methodologies and materials used for this purpose are widely varied, and few dispersive agents have been studied systematically. This work describes a systematic study into the ability of some well-known (and some less common) surfactants and polymers to disperse SWCNTs fabricated by two different techniques. UV-vis-NIR absorbance spectra of their supernatant solutions showed that the smaller ionic surfactants were generally more effective dispersants, with larger polymer and surfactant molecules exhibiting a reduced performance for ensembles of carbon nanotubes of smaller average diameter. Optimal surfactant concentrations were established for dispersions of carbon nanotubes produced by the electric arc method in aqueous solutions of sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, sodium deoxycholate, Triton X-405, Brij S-100, Pluronic F-127, and polyvinylpyrrolidone. This optimum value was determined as the point at which the relative concentration of nanotubes dispersed is maximized, before flocculation-inducing attractive depletion interactions begin to dominate. The aggregation state of carbon nanotubes dispersed in sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate was probed by AFM at different stages of rebundling, showing the length dependence of these effects.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9805-9811
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
    Issue number30
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2010


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