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Highly Selective Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes by Using Poly(phenyleneethynylene)-Guided Supermolecular Assembly



Isolation of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) with specific chirality and diameters is critical for achieving optimum performance of SWNTs in various applications. A water-soluble π-conjugated polymer, poly[(m-phenyleneethynylene)-alt-(p-phenyleneethynylene)], 3, is found to exhibit high selectivity in dispersing SWNT (6,5). The polymer's ability to sort out SWNT (6,5) appears to be related to the carbon–carbon triple bond, whose free rotation allows a unique assembly of chromophores in a helical conformation. The observation is consistently supported by fluorescence, Raman, and UV-vis-NIR absorption spectra. The intriguing selectivity of 3 to SWNT (6,5), however, is not observed for the vinylene analogue polymer 1, showing that the carbon–carbon triple bond could play a unique role in sorting out a specific SWNT. The observed selectivity from 3 could be attributed to a combination of the helical cavity size restrain and electronic interaction associated with the local chromophore arrangement. This strategy could be expanded for efficient SWNT sorting when the helical conformation is further finely tuned.