Solubilization of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes by using Polycyclic Aromatic Ammonium Amphiphiles in Water—Strategy for the Design of High-Performance Solubilizers



We describe the design of polycyclic aromatic compounds with high performance that dissolve single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Synthetic amphiphiles trimethyl-(2-oxo-2-phenylethyl)-ammonium bromide (1) and trimethyl-(2-naphthalen-2-yl-2-oxo-ethyl)-ammonium bromide (2) carrying a phenyl or a naphtyl moiety were not able to dissolve/disperse SWNTs in water. By contrast, trimethyl-(2-oxo-2-phenanthren-9-yl-ethyl)-ammonium bromide (3) solubilized SWNTs, although the solubilization ability was lower than that of trimethyl-(2-oxo-2-pyrene-1-yl-ethyl)-ammonium bromide (4) (solubilization behavior observed by using 4 was described briefly in reference 4a). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), as well as visible/near-IR, fluorescence, and near-IR photoluminescence spectroscopies were employed to reveal the solubilization properties of 4 in water, and to compare these results with those obtained by using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HTAB) as solubilizers. Compound 4 solubilized both the as-produced SWNTs (raw-SWNTs) and purified SWNTs under mild experimental conditions, and the solubilization ability was better than that of SDS and HTAB. Near-IR photoluminescence measurements revealed that the chiral indices of the SWNTs dissolved in an aqueous solution of 4 were quite different from those obtained by using micelles of SDS and HTAB; for a SWNTs/4 solution, the intensity of the (7,6), (9,5), and (12,1) indices were strong and the chirality distribution was narrower than those of the micellar solutions. This indicates that the aqueous solution of 4 has a tendency to dissolve semiconducting SWNTs with diameters in the range of 0.89–1.0 nm, which are larger than those SWNTs (0.76–0.97 nm) dissolved in the aqueous micelles of SDS and HTAB.