Lateral Diffusion of Dispersing Molecules on Nanotubes As Probed by NMR Academic Article uri icon


  • Noncovalent dispersion of carbon nanotubes is essential to most applications but still poorly understood at the molecular level. The interaction of the dispersing molecule with the nanotube, wrapping or nonwrapping, still awaits consensus. Herein, we have studied by 1H NMR diffusometry some features of molecular dynamics in the system of carbon nanotubes dispersed by triblock copolymer Pluronics F127 in water. The diffusional decays obtained at different diffusion times, Δ, are not single-exponential and have a complex Δ-dependent profile, ultimately implying that the polymer is observed in two states: free (in unimeric form) and nanotube-bound. Fitting a two-site exchange model to the data indicates that at any instant, only a small fraction of polymers are adsorbed on the nanotubes, with polydisperse residence times in the range of 100–400 ms. Most significantly, we further provide an estimate of D = (3–8) × 10–12 m2 s–1 for the coefficient of lateral diffusion of the polymer along the nanotube surface, which is an order of magnitude slower than the corresponding self-diffusion coefficient in water. The emerging picture is that of a nonwrapping mode for the polymer–nanotube interaction.

publication date

  • January 9, 2014