One-Pot, Large-Scale Synthesis of Organic Color Center-Tailored Semiconducting Carbon Nanotubes

Organic color center-tailored semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes are a rising family of synthetic quantum emitters that display bright defect photoluminescence molecularly tunable for imaging, sensing, and quantum information processing. A major advance in this area would be the development of a high-yield synthetic route that is capable of producing these materials well exceeding the current μg/mL scale. Here, we demonstrate that adding a chlorosulfonic acid solution of raw carbon nanotubes, sodium nitrite, and an aniline derivative into water readily leads to the synthesis of organic color center-tailored nanotubes. This unexpectedly simple one-pot reaction is highly scalable (yielding hundreds of milligrams of materials in a single run), efficient (reaction completes in seconds), and versatile (achieved the synthesis of organic color centers previously unattainable). The implanted organic color centers can be easily tailored by choosing from the more than 40 aniline derivatives that are commercially available, including many fluoroaniline and aminobenzoic acid derivatives, and that are difficult to convert into diazonium salts. We found this chemistry works for all the nanotube chiralities investigated. The synthesized materials are neat solids that can be directly dispersed in either water or an organic solvent by a surfactant or polymer depending on the specific application. The nanotube products can also be further sorted into single chirality-enriched fractions with defect-specific photoluminescence that is tunable over ∼1100 to ∼1550 nm. This one-pot chemistry thus provides a highly scalable synthesis of organic color centers for many potential applications that require large quantities of materials.