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Functionalization of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes with Thermo-reversible Block Copolymers and Characterization by Small-angle Neutron Scattering

Published: June 1st, 2016



1Biology and Soft Matter Division, Neutron Science Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 3Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, Pusan National University, 4Jülich Center for Neutron Science, Forschungszentrum Jülich

A method for the functionalization of carbon nanotubes with structure-tunable polymeric encapsulation layers and structural characterization using small-angle neutron scattering is presented.

We demonstrate a protocol for single-walled carbon nanotube functionalization using thermo-sensitive PEO-PPO-PEO triblock copolymers in an aqueous solution. In a carbon nanotube/PEO105-PPO70-PEO105 (poloxamer 407) aqueous solution, the amphiphilic poloxamer 407 adsorbs onto the carbon nanotube surfaces and self-assembles into continuous layers, driven by intermolecular interactions between constituent molecules. The addition of 5-methylsalicylic acid changes the self-assembled structure from spherical-micellar to a cylindrical morphology. The fabricated poloxamer 407/carbon nanotube hybrid particles exhibit thermo-responsive structural features so that the density and thickness of poloxamer 407 layers are also reversibly controllable by varying temperature. The detailed structural properties of the poloxamer 407/carbon nanotube particles in suspension can be characterized by small-angle neutron scattering experiments and model fit analyses. The distinct curve shapes of the scattering intensities depending on temperature control or addition of aromatic additives are well described by a modified core-shell cylinder model consisting of a carbon nanotube core cylinder, a hydrophobic shell, and a hydrated polymer layer. This method can provide a simple but efficient way for the fabrication and in-situ characterization of carbon nanotube-based nano particles with a structure-tunable encapsulation.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are hollow cylindrical nanoparticles formed by rolling a micrometer-scale graphite sheet into a nanotube. Because of their extraordinary mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties, CNTs have been extensively investigated as a novel candidate for functional nanoparticles in therapeutic and bio-sensing applications as well as nano-fillers in self-assembled nanocomposite materials.1-3 However, their poor solubility and strong preference toward making bundles in commonly used organic and aqueous solvents hinder easy and environmentally-friendly processing as well as advances in biological applications. Therefore, a variety of functio....

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Note: This protocol requires special care in the handling of nanomaterials. As-purchased single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) exist in the form of fine powder and thus, they should be considered as nano-hazardous materials before dispersing them in aqueous solutions. Please use appropriate safety equipment described in the material safety data sheets (MSDS).

1. Preparation of Poloxamer 407/SWNT Aqueous Suspensions

Note: Proceed with all the sample preparation proced.......

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Poloxamer 407-coated SWNT nanorod suspensions were fabricated using the sample preparation procedure (Figure 4), which can be divided into two important processes; the physical adsorption process of poloxamer 407 on SWNT surfaces using ultra-sonication, and the fractionation process of individually-stabilized SWNTs from bundled aggregates using centrifugation.

The SANS scattering intensities were obtained for th.......

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SANS and AFM measurements showed that SWNTs have been successfully de-bundled and individually dispersed in aqueous solution using a poloxamer 407 triblock copolymer. In this sample preparation method, ultra-sonication and centrifugation processes are the critical steps determining the characteristics of the final suspension. The strong interaction between the SWNTs, which forces uncoated SWNTs to bundle together in solution, must be overcome to stabilize the individual SWNTs with block copolymers. Providing a sufficient.......

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The Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Spallation Neutron Source and Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences was sponsored by the Scientific User Facilities Division, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy. The author, Zhe Zhang, gratefully acknowledges the financial support from Jülich Center for Neutron Science, Research center Jülich.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
HiPco Single-walled carbon nanotubes Unidym P2771
Pluronic F127 BASF 9003-11-6 Mw = 12.6 kg/mol
5-methylsalicylic acid TCI America C0410
Ultrasonic processor Cole-Parmer ML-04714-52
Sorvall 6 plus centrifuge Thermo Scientific 46910
Innova AFM  Bruker
Si-wafer Silicon Quest International 150 mm in diameter  ; N type <1-1-1> cut ; 1-10 Ohm/cm ; Single-side polyshed (675 +- 25 um) ; Diced (12 mm x 12 mm)

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