Aqueous dispersions of oligomer-grafted carbon nanomaterials with controlled surface charge and minimal framework damage†
Functionalised carbon nanomaterials (CNMs), with an undamaged carbon framework and controlled physiochemical properties, are desirable for a wide range of scientific studies and commercial applications. The use of a thermochemical grafting approach provides a versatile means to functionalise both multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and carbon black (CB) nanoparticles without altering their inherent structures. The functionalisation process was investigated by employing various types of grafting monomers; to improve water solubility, reagents were chosen that introduced an ionic character either intrinsically or after further chemical reactions. The degree of grafting for both MWCNTs and CB ranged from 3–27 wt%, as established by thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA). Raman spectroscopy confirmed that the structural framework of the MWCNTs was unaffected by the thermochemical treatment. The effectiveness of the surface modification was demonstrated by significantly improved dispersibility and stability in water, and further quantified by zeta-potential analysis. The concentration of stable, individualised and grafted MWCNTs in water ranged from ∼30 to 80 μg mL−1 after centrifugation at 10 000 g for 15 min, whereas functionalised CB in water showed improved dispersibility up to ∼460 μg mL−1. The successful preparation of structurally identical but differently functionalised nanoparticle panels, with high water compatibility and minimal framework damage, is useful for controlled experiments. For example, they can be used to explore the relationship between toxicological effects and specific physiochemical properties, such as surface charge and geometry.
- This article is part of the themed collection: New Advances in Carbon Nanomaterials