Controlled Oxidative Cutting of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

The oxidation reaction of piranha solutions with purified HiPco carbon nanotubes was measured as a function of temperature. At high temperatures, piranha is capable of attacking existing damage sites, generating vacancies in the graphene sidewall, and consuming the oxidized vacancies to yield short, cut nanotubes. Increased reaction time results in increasingly shorter nanotubes. However, significant sidewall damage occurs as well as selective etching of the smaller diameter nanotubes. On the other hand, room-temperature piranha treatments show the capability of cutting existing damage sites with minimal carbon loss, slow etch rates, and little sidewall damage. Combined with a method of introducing controlled amounts of damage sites, these room-temperature piranha solutions have the potential to yield an efficient means of creating short, cut nanotubes.