In situ tracking of defect healing and purification of single-wall carbon nanotubes with laser radiation by time-resolved Raman spectroscopy†
Defects and impurities in carbon nanotubes (CNTs), inherent to all synthesis routes, are generally addressed by thermal and/or chemical post treatments. These require atmosphere control, time-consuming temperature ramping, chemical handling, and often incur further defects. Furthermore, certain applications require nanotube treatments, such as dispersion, that cause further unwanted damage. Laser radiation was found to drastically increase purity, crystallinity and mean inter-defect distance while reducing defects, as indicated by Raman spectroscopy, effectively annealing our single-wall CNTs. Laser power density and radiation times, in other words, fluence, were optimised. When applied to CNTs with mechanically induced defects, these were almost fully eliminated. In addition to the tuned annealing of CNTs, unintentional sample modification can occur during Raman measurements if the influence of the power density and the exposure time are underestimated or disregarded. Fast laser radiation times and simple manipulation outdo common purification treatments. Additionally, selective shape and site-specific parameters come into play such as interference patterns. Such arrangements of alternating tube quality, that is, in a CNT mat, could be interesting for preferred electronic conduction paths and find applications in, for example, interdigitated electrodes or sensors.