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Langmuir. 2017 Jul 11;33(27):6677-6690. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b00711. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Efficient Covalent Modification of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes with Diazotized Dyes in Water at Room Temperature.

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Faculté des Sciences, Laboratoire de Chimie Organique Structurale et Macromoléculaire (LR99ES14), Université de Tunis El Manar , Campus Universitaire, Manar II, Tunis 2092, Tunisia.
Université Paris Est , ICMPE (UMR7182), CNRS, UPEC, F-94320 Thiais, France.
Université Paris Diderot , Sorbonne Paris Cité, ITODYS, UMR 7086, CNRS, F-75013 Paris, France.
Polymer Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences , 845 41 Bratislava, Slovakia.


Tetrafluoroborate salts of diazotized Azure A (AA-N2+), Neutral Red (NR-N2+) and Congo Red (CR-N2+) dyes were prepared and reacted with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) at room temperature, in water without any reducing agent. The as-modified MWCNTs were examined by IRATR, Raman spectroscopy, XPS, TGA, TEM, and cyclic voltammetry. The diazonium band located at ∼2350 cm-1 in the diazotized dye IR spectra vanished after attachment to the nanotubes whereas the Raman D/G peak ratio slightly increased after dye covalent attachment at a high initial diazonium/CNT mass ratio. XPS measurements show the loss of F 1s from the BF4- anion together with a clear change in the high-resolution C 1s region from the modified nanotubes. Thermogravimetric analyses proved substantial mass loadings of the organic grafts leveling off at 40.5, 34.3, and 50.7 wt % for AA, NR, and CR, respectively. High-resolution TEM pictures confirmed the presence of 1.5-7-nm-thick continuous amorphous layers on the nanotubes assigned to the aryl layers from the dyes. Cyclic voltammetry studies in acetonitrile (ACN) confirmed the grafting of the dyes; the latter retain their electrochemical behavior in the grafted state. The experimental results correlate remarkably well with quantum chemical calculations that indicate high binding energies between the dyes and the CNTs accounting for true covalent bonding (140-185 kJ/mol with the CNT-aryl distance <1.6 nm), though attachment by π stacking also contributes to obtaining stable hybrids. Finally, the pH-responsive character of the robust hybrids was demonstrated by a higher degree of protonation of Neutral Red-grafted CNTs at pH 2 compared to that of the neutral aqueous medium. This work demonstrates that diazotized dyes can be employed for the surface modification of MWCNTs in a very simple and efficient manner in water and at room temperature. The hybrids could be employed for many purposes such as optically pH-responsive materials, biosensors, and optothermal composite actuators to name a few.

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