Confined propagation of covalent chemical reactions on single-walled carbon nanotubes

Shunliu Deng, Yin Zhang, Alexandra H. Brozena, Maricris Lodriguito Mayes, Parag Banerjee, Wen An Chiou, Gary W. Rubloff, George C. Schatz, Yuhuang Wang

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58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Covalent chemistry typically occurs randomly on the graphene lattice of a carbon nanotube because electrons are delocalized over thousands of atomic sites, and rapidly destroys the electrical and optical properties of the nanotube. Here we show that the Billups-Birch reductive alkylation, a variant of the nearly century-old Birch reduction, occurs on single-walled carbon nanotubes by defect activation and propagates exclusively from sp 3 defect sites, with an estimated probability more than 1,300 times higher than otherwise random bonding to the 'π-electron sea'. This mechanism quickly leads to confinement of the reaction fronts in the tubular direction. The confinement gives rise to a series of interesting phenomena, including clustered distributions of the functional groups and a constant propagation rate of 18 ±6 nm per reaction cycle that allows straightforward control of the spatial pattern of functional groups on the nanometre length scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number382
JournalNature communications
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 19 2011

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Deng, S., Zhang, Y., Brozena, A. H., Mayes, M. L., Banerjee, P., Chiou, W. A., Rubloff, G. W., Schatz, G. C., & Wang, Y. (2011). Confined propagation of covalent chemical reactions on single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nature communications, 2(1), [382]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms1384