Dispersing single-walled carbon nanotubes with surfactants: A small angle neutron scattering study

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We have investigated the dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in heavy water with the surfactant octyl-phenol-ethoxylate (Triton X-100) using small angle neutron scattering. The results indicate an optimal surfactant concentration for dispersion, which we suggest results from competition between maximization of surfactant adsorption onto SWNT surfaces and a depletion interaction between SWNT bundles mediated by surfactant micelles. The latter effect drives SWNT reaggregation above a critical volume fraction of micelles. These behaviors could be general in dispersing SWNTs using amphiphilic surfactant. The data also reveal significant incoherent scattering from hydrogen in SWNTs, most likely due to acid and water residues from the purification process.

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Nano Letters