Molecular Perspective on Diazonium Adsorption for Controllable Functionalization of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Aqueous Surfactant Solutions

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Year: 2012
Type of Publication: Article
  • Shangchao Lin, Jonathan D. Mendenhall Andrew J. Hilmer
Journal: Journal of the American Chemical Society Volume: 134
Number: 19
Month: MAY 16 2012
PT: J; TC: 0; UT: WOS:000304027100035
Functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) using diazonium salts allows modification of their optical and electronic properties for a variety of applications, ranging from drug-delivery vehicles to molecular sensors. However, control of the functionalization process remains a challenge, requiring molecular-level understanding of the adsorption of diazonium ions onto heterogeneous, charge-mobile SWCNT surfaces, which are typically decorated with surfactants. In this paper, we combine molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, experiments, and equilibrium reaction modeling to understand and model the extent of diazonium functionalization of SWCNTs coated with various surfactants (sodium cholate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, and cetyl trirnethylammonium bromide). We show that the free energy of diazonium adsorption, determined using simulations, can be used to rank surfactants in terms of the extent of functionalization attained following their adsorption on the nanotube surface. The difference in binding affinities between linear and rigid surfactants is attributed to the synergistic binding of the diazonium ion to the local "hot/cold spots" formed by the charged surfactant heads. A combined simulation modeling framework is developed to provide guidance for controlling the various sensitive experimental conditions needed to achieve the desired extent of SWCNT functionalization.