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Processing and properties of highly enriched double-wall carbon nanotubes

Abstract

Carbon nanotubes consist of one or more concentric graphene cylinders and are under investigation for a variety of applications that make use of their excellent thermal, mechanical, electronic and optical properties. Double-wall nanotubes are ideal systems for studying the interwall interactions influencing the properties of nanotubes with two or more walls. However, current techniques to synthesize double-wall nanotubes produce unwanted single- and multiwall nanotubes. Here, we show how density gradient ultracentrifugation can be used to separate double-wall nanotubes from mixtures of single- and multiwall nanotubes through differences in their buoyant density. This technique results in samples that are highly enriched in either single- or double-wall nanotubes of similar outer wall diameter, with the double-wall nanotubes being, on average, 44% longer than the single-wall nanotubes. The longer average length of the double-wall nanotubes provides distinct advantages when they are used in transparent conductors.

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Figure 1: Separation of carbon nanotubes by number of walls using density differentiation.
Figure 2: Raman spectra of single- and double-wall nanotubes at two excitation wavelengths.
Figure 3: Optical absorbance spectra of thin films of single- and double-wall nanotubes.
Figure 4: Photoluminescence from solutions of sorted single- and double-wall nanotubes.
Figure 5: Length analyses of sorted single- and double-wall nanotubes.
Figure 6: Sheet resistance versus optical transmittance graphs for transparent conductive films of sorted and unsorted nanotubes.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge G. N. Ostojic for helpful discussions and S. Li for help with transmission electron microscopy. This work was supported by the US Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (DAMD17-05-1-0381) and the National Science Foundation (DMR-0520513, EEC-0647560 and DMR-0706067). A Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Scholarship (A.A.G.) and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (M.C.H.) are also acknowledged. We acknowledge the use of instruments in the Keck-II and EPIC facility of the NUANCE Center, and the Keck Biophysics Facility at Northwestern University. The NUANCE Center is supported by NSF-NSEC, NSF-MRSEC, the Keck Foundation, the State of Illinois and Northwestern University.

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A.A.G. and M.C.H. conceived the experiments, analysed the data and co-wrote the manuscript. A.A.G. performed the experiments.

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Correspondence to Mark C. Hersam.

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Green, A., Hersam, M. Processing and properties of highly enriched double-wall carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 4, 64–70 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2008.364

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