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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Mar 16;127(10):3439-48.

Comparison of analytical techniques for purity evaluation of single-walled carbon nanotubes.

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Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Riverside, California 92521-0403, USA.


We compare popular analytical techniques, including scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and Raman and near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, for the evaluation of the purity of bulk quantities of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Despite their importance as imaging techniques, SEM and TEM are not capable of quantitatively evaluating the purity of typical inhomogeneous bulk SWNT samples because the image frame visualizes less than 1 pg of SWNT material; furthermore, there is no published algorithm to convert such images into numerical data. The TGA technique is capable of measuring the amount of metal catalyst in an SWNT sample, but does not provide an unambiguous separation between the content of SWNTs and carbonaceous impurities. We discuss the utilization of solution-phase near-infrared spectroscopy and solution-phase Raman spectroscopy to quantitatively compare arbitrary samples of bulk SWNT materials of different purities. The primary goal of this paper is to provide the chemical community with a realistic evaluation of current analytical tools for the purity evaluation of a bulk sample of SWNTs. The secondary goal is to draw attention to the growing crisis in the SWNT industry as a result of the lack of quality control and the misleading advertising by suppliers of this material.

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