Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


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2.10 NANO-TECHNOLOGY, Nano-processes

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to the Technological University Dublin, March, 2010.


This thesis contains a systematic study of the dispersion of pristine HiPco Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWNTs) in a series of organic solvents. A double beamed UV-Vis-NIR absorption spectrometer coupled with an integrating sphere was employed to demonstrate the dispersibility of SWNTs in different solvents. Raman Spectroscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) were used to confirm the debundling and exfoliation of SWNTs aggregates. An investigation of the solubility of SWNTs in four chlorinated aromatic solvents demonstrated that the similarity in structure between solvent molecules and nanotube sidewall is not a dominant factor to obtain stable SWNT solutions. A comparative study of the solubility of SWNTs between the aromatic solvents and other reported solvents was then conducted, in terms of the solvent solubility parameters, including Hildebrand and Hansen solubility parameters. Although the established correlation between extinction/absorption coefficients as a function of Hildebrand/Hansen solubility parameters indicated there may be a selective debundling of metallic and semiconducting SWNTs in different solvents, this was not confirmed by a detailed Raman investigation. A further study of the dispersion limit of SWNTs in different solvents as a function of the solvent solubility parameters was carried out. Good agreement with literature is demonstrated here in terms of Hildebrand parameters, but not in terms of the Hansen solubility parameters. It has been demonstrated that the degree of dispersion is critically dependent on sample preparation conditions, in particular sonication. Finally, the effect of sonication parameters and solvent properties during the dispersion of SWNTs was investigated. The results indicated that the sonication process is closely dependent on many of the physical parameters of the solvent, including vapour pressure, viscosity, surface tension, density and molecular weight. Longer sonication time and higher sonication power help debundling SWNTs in organic solvents but significantly damage the nanotubes. The choice of solvent should be guided by minimisation of sonication requirements.


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