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Langmuir. 2004 Sep 14;20(19):8239-42.

Functionalized multiwall carbon nanotube/gold nanoparticle composites.

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Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Florida, 225 Rhines Hall, P.O. Box 116400, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


Multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were chemically oxidized in a mixture of sulfuric acid and nitric acid (3:1) while being ultrasonicated. The effect of oxidative ultrasonication at room temperature on development of functional groups on the carbon nanotubes was investigated. The dispersability and the carboxylic acid group concentration of functionalized MWCNTs (fMWNTs) varied with reaction time. The concentration of carboxylic acid groups on fMWNTs increased from 4 x 10(-4) mol/g of fMWNTs to 1.1 x 10(-3) mol/g by doubling the treatment period from 4 to 8 h. The colloidal stability of aqueous fMWCNTs dispersions was enhanced through elongated oxidation. fMWCNTs that were reacted longer than 4 h did not precipitate in aqueous media for at least 24 h. The layer-by-layer self-assembly of polyelectrolytes on fMWCNTs was characterized by zeta potential measurements. The zeta potential of fMWCNTs changed from negative charge to positive charge when cationic polyelectrolytes were self-assembled on their surface. With addition of anionic polyelectrolytes, cationic polyelectrolyte coated fMWCNTs showed the expected charge reversal as expected for multilayer self-assembly. Complex formation of positively charged gold nanoparticles and negatively charged fMWCNTs was achieved with and without polyelectrolyte coatings by electrostatic interaction. The complex formation was characterized by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The here found complex formation of positively charged colloidal gold and defect sites on fMWNTs indicates the location of functional groups on carbon nanotubes. It is suggested that positively charged colloids such as gold nanoparticles could be used for detection of defect sites on carbon nanotubes.

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