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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Dec 4;46(23):12839-47. doi: 10.1021/es303157r. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Influence of surface oxygen on the interactions of carbon nanotubes with natural organic matter.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


The sorption properties of natural organic matter (NOM) with oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (O-MWCNTs) in simple electrolytes has been studied, as well as the effect that NOM concentration, pH, and O-MWCNT surface chemistry have on CNT stability under environmentally relevant conditions. As O-MWCNT oxygen content increased, NOM sorption decreased in simple electrolytes for a common set of solution conditions. For each O-MWCNT, NOM sorption increased with increasing ionic strength and decreasing pH, although the sensitivity of NOM sorption to these water quality parameters increased as the O-MWCNT oxygen content increased. Collectively, these observations indicate that NOM sorption by O-MWCNTs is determined by favorable hydrophobic π-π interactions that are moderated by repulsive electrostatic forces between negatively charged carboxylic acid functional groups on the O-MWCNTs and NOM. Stability studies conducted in artificial groundwater revealed that CNT stability is influenced by both the NOM concentration and pH, but stability was largely independent of the O-MWCNT oxygen concentration. These findings contrast with the marked effect that surface oxygen has on CNT stability in simple electrolytes. Electrophoretic mobility measurements revealed that the stabilizing effects of adsorbed NOM are due to the introduction of steric repulsion between NOM-coated CNTs, rather than from changes to surface charge.

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