Carbon Nanotubes in the Liquid Phase: Addressing the Issue of Dispersion

Authors

  • Thathan Premkumar,

    1. Laboratory of Applied Macromolecular Chemistry, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea
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  • Raffaele Mezzenga,

    1. ETH Zurich, Food & Soft Materials Science, Schmelzbergstrasse 9, LFO, E23, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Kurt E. Geckeler

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Applied Macromolecular Chemistry, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea
    2. Department of Nanobio Materials and Electronics, World-Class University (WCU), Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea
    • Laboratory of Applied Macromolecular Chemistry, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea.
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Abstract

The inherent size and hollow geometry with extraordinary electronic and optical properties make carbon nanotubes (CNTs) promising building blocks for molecular or nanoscale devices. Unfortunately, their hydrophobic nature and their existence in the form of agglomerated and parallel bundles make this interesting material inadequately soluble or dispersible in most of the common solvents, which is crucial to their processing. Therefore, various ingenious techniques have been reported to disperse the CNTs in various solvents with different experimental conditions. However, by analyzing the published scientific research articles, it is evident that there is an important issue or misunderstanding between the term “dispersion” and “solubilization”. As a result many researchers use the terms interchangeably, particularly when stating the interaction of CNTs with liquids, which causes confusion among the readers, students, and researchers. In this article, this fundamental issue is addressed in order to give basic insight to the researchers who are working with CNTs, as well as to the scientists who deal with nano-related research domains.

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