"Direct Intertube Cross-Linking of Carbon Nanotubes at Room Temperature"

Yunxiang Gao: Hongwei Chen, Jun Ge, Jingna Zhao, Qingwen Li, Jianxin Tang, Yi Cui, and Liwei Chen; Nano Letters, 09/22/16.

Additional Authors: Hongwei Chen, Jun Ge, Jingna Zhao, Qingwen Li, Jianxin Tang, Yi Cui, and Liwei Chen

Abstract:

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long been regarded as an efficient free radical scavenger because of the large-conjugation system in their electronic structures. Hence, despite abundant reports on CNT reacting with incoming free radical species, current research has not seen CNT itself displaying the chemical reactivity of free radicals. Here we show that reactive free radicals can in fact be generated on carbon nanotubes via reductive defluorination of highly fluorinated single-walled carbon nanotubes (FSWNTs). This finding not only enriches the current understanding of carbon nanotube chemical reactivity but also opens up new opportunities in CNT-based material design. For example, spacer-free direct intertube cross-linking of carbon nanotubes was previously achieved only under extremely high temperature and pressure or electron/ion beam irradiation. With the free radicals on defluorinated FSWNTs, the nanotubes containing multiple radicals on the sidewall can directly cross-link with each other under ambient temperature through intertube radical recombination. It is demonstrated that carbon nanotube fibers reinforced via direct cross-linking displays much improved mechanical properties.