October 1, 2016.
Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNTs) are being investigated for their use in a wide variety of renewable energy applications. Their unique physical properties contribute to desirable traits such as a high carrier mobility, strong optical absorption and tunable electronic band gap. Unfortunately, due to variability in certain parameters, SWCNTs are limited in their application. The major drawback is that SWCNTs are variable in size and type and typical synthetic methods are not selective. As a result, selective methods must be developed in order to sort these tubes and extract those which are desirable for a particular application. Though there are several enrichment strategies, polymer-wrapping was used to select semiconducting SWCNTs in this research. Some issues with polymer-wrapping include inability to remove polymer post-enrichment as well as difficulty re-dispersing SWCNTs post polymer removal. Polymer removal is necessary for certain applications and the presence of excess polymer in SWCNTs can decrease their efficiency. To address the first issue, a removable polymer, PF-PD was used in the dispersion making process. The second issue of re-dispersal was discovered to be specific to a particular batch of PF-PD and was combatted by altering the polymer removal step from a centrifuge run to a TFA vapor treatment. PF-PD is loosely linked by imine bonds which are degraded by the TFA and make it easier to remove. This process does require some refining, however, since a significant percentage of SWCNTs are lost during the treatment. Several other mini experiments were conducted throughout the course of this research to contribute to a better understanding of the quality of dispersions that could be made using PF-PD with unpurified SWCNTs. The results of these experiments are inconclusive but do lead to the need for further and more detailed research on SWCNTs.
Environmental Chemistry | Polymer Chemistry | Sustainability
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
This project has been made possible with financial support from Chevron (www.chevron.com) and the California State University STEM Teacher Researcher Program. Special thanks to Noah Stanton, Brad MacLeod and Rachelle Ihly for their insight and assistance with this project. In addition, thank you to Linda Lung for coordinating STAR intern placement at NREL as well as continued administrative support