Carbon nanotubes are a promising platform across a broad spectrum of applications ranging from separations technology, drug delivery, to bio(electronic) sensors. Proper dispersion of carbon nanotube materials is important to retaining the electronic properties of nanotubes. Experimentally it has been shown that salts can regulate the dispersing properties of CNTs in aqueous system with surfactants (Niyogi, S.; Densmore, C. G.; Doorn, S. K. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2009, 131, 1144-1153); details of the physicochemical mechanisms underlying such effects continue to be explored. We address the effects of inorganic monovalent salts (NaCl and NaI) on dispersion stability of carbon nanotubes.We perform all-atom molecular dynamics simulations using nonpolarizable interaction models to compute the potential of mean force between two (10,10) single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in the presence of NaCl/NaI and compare to the potential of mean force between SWNTs in pure water. Addition of salts enhances stability of the contact state between two SWNTs on the order of 4 kcal/mol. The ion-specific spatial distribution of different halide anions gives rise to starkly different contributions to the free energy stability of nanotubes in the contact state. Iodide anion directly stabilizes the contact state to a much greater extent than chloride anion. The enhanced stability arises from the locally repulsive forces imposed on nanotubes by the surface-segregated iodide anion. Within the time scale of our simulations, both NaI and NaCl solutions stabilize the contact state by equivalent amounts. The marginally higher stability for contact state in salt solutions recapitulates results for small hydrophobic solutes in NaCl solutions (Athawale, M. V.; Sarupria, S.; Garde, S. J. Phys. Chem. B2008, 112, 5661-5670) as well as single-walled carbon nanotubes in NaCl and CaCl2 aqueous solutions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry