This invention is a process by which carbon nanotubes can be chemically functionalized according to their precise electronic structure. The process involves an exploitation of charge transfer stability at the nanotube sidewall to direct selective reaction of certain electronic structures over others. This process forms the basis for manipulating and separating carbon nanotubes by their electronic structure by chemical means.

The invention requires spectroscopic identification of particular carbon nanotubes in the solution phase. The reaction chemistry must proceed in water, and relies on surfactants to stabilize the nanotube. Thermal treatment is needed to drive off the reacted groups to restore the nanotube. This process step is tedious, but can be done effectively.

The reaction chemistry is conducted such that all metallic nanotubes are selectively functionalized via phenol moieties, then separated by electrophoretic means. After recovery of the fractionated material, thermal treatment of the metallic nanotubes recovers their properties.

This work was done by Michael S. Strano, Monica Usrey, and Paul Barone of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Christopher A. Dyke, James M. Tour, Wilbur Carter Kittrell, Robert H. Hauge, and Richard Smalley of Rice University for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering
319 Ceramics Building
105 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Refer to MSC-24066-1.