Role of constituents for the chirality isolation of single-walled carbon nanotubes by the reversible phase transition of a thermoresponsive polymer†
The simple sorting procedure and continuous use of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM), a well-known thermoresponsive polymer, have a high potential for the mass production of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with a specific electronic structure. However, knowledge of efficient single-chirality sorting methods with mixed surfactant systems is not applicable. In this work, we explored experimental conditions by controlling the interaction among PNIPAM, sodium cholate (SC) and SWCNTs. An optimization of the PNIPAM and SC concentrations as well as the addition of sodium borate achieved the selective release of (6,4) nanotubes into the liquid phase after the PNIPAM phase transition. The sorting mechanism with PNIPAM was explained by the difference in the micelle configuration on the SWCNTs and the hydrophobic collapse of PNIPAM in the presence of a sodium salt. The one-step sorting procedure for obtaining SWCNTs with a single chirality via PNIPAM will help promote their widespread application.