A new technique for carbon nanotube oxidation was developed based upon the photo-oxidation of organic compounds. The resulting method is more benign than conventional oxidation approaches and produces single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with higher levels of oxidation.

In this procedure, an oxygen saturated suspension of SWNTs in a suitable solvent containing a singlet oxygen sensitizer, such as Rose Bengal, is irradiated with ultraviolet light. The resulting oxidized tubes are recovered by filtering the suspension, followed by washing to remove any adsorbed solvent and sensitizer, and drying in a vacuum oven. Chemical analysis by FT-infrared and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy revealed that the oxygen content of the photo-oxidized SWCNT was 11.3 atomic % compared to 6.7 atomic % for SWCNT that had been oxidized by standard treatment in refluxing acid.

The photo-oxidized SWCNT produced by this method can be used directly in various polymer matrixes, or can be further modified by chemical reactions at the oxygen functional groups and then used as additives. This method may also be suitable for use in oxidation of multiwall carbon nanotubes and graphenes.

This work was done by Marisabel Lebron-Colon and Michael A. Meador for Glenn Research Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Materials category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18542-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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