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Physical Adsorption of Block Copolymers to SWNT and MWNT:  A Nonwrapping Mechanism

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 84105 Beer Sheva, Israel, The Jacob Blaustein Institute, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Israel, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, 560 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2084, and The Ilse Katz Center for Meso- and Nanoscale Science and Technology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 84105 Beer Sheva, Israel
Cite this: Macromolecules 2007, 40, 10, 3676–3685
Publication Date (Web):April 14, 2007
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

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    A detailed study of the interaction mechanism between carbon nanotubes and physically adsorbed block copolymers is presented. The combination of experimental observations, computer simulations and theory suggests that while the solvophobic blocks adsorb to the nanotubes by a nonwrapping mechanism, the dangling (solvophilic) blocks provide a steric barrier that leads to the formation of stable dispersions of individual single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) above a threshold concentration of the polymer. The observed threshold concentration depends on the length of the solvophobic blocks, and it is higher for MWNT as compared to SWNT. Theory suggests that the latter is a consequence of dimensional considerations. Spectroscopic characterization of the dispersions indicate that the dispersing block polymers do not alter the electronic structure of the well dispersed individual SWNT, supporting the model of nonspecific adsorption of the polymer to the tube driven by van der walls type interactions. The study presented here offers a generic scheme for optimization of the structure and composition of block copolymers used for dispersion of CNT in different media.

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     Department of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

     The Jacob Blaustein Institute, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


     Department of Chemistry, Purdue University.


     Corresponding author. Telephone:  972- 8-6461272. Fax:  972-8-6472916. E-mail:  [email protected].

     The Ilse Katz Center for Meso- and Nanoscale Science and Technology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

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    Text discussing the determination of the threshold concentration of SWNTH in Pluronics solutions and an investigation of the TGA behavior of the dispersions, which was used to calculate the adsorbed amount of Pluronics, a table of threshold concentrations, and figures showing a plot of the threshold concentrations and mass change as a function of temperature. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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