Sorting single-walled carbon nanotubes by electronic type using nonionic, biocompatible block copolymers

Alexander L. Antaris, Jung Woo T. Seo, Alexander A. Green, Mark C. Hersam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


As-synthesized single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) typically possess a range of diameters and electronic properties. This polydispersity has hindered the development of many SWNT-based technologies and encouraged the development of postsynthetic methods for sorting SWNTs by their physical and electronic structure. Herein, we demonstrate that nonionic, biocompatible block copolymers can be used to isolate semiconducting and metallic SWNTs using density gradient ultracentrifugation. Separations conducted with different Pluronic block copolymers reveal that Pluronics with shorter hydrophobic chain lengths lead to higher purity semiconducting SWNTs, resulting in semiconducting purity levels in excess of 99% obtained for Pluronic F68. In contrast, X-shaped Tetronic block copolymers display an affinity for metallic SWNTs, yielding metallic purity levels of 74% for Tetronic 1107. These results suggest that high fidelity and high yield density gradient separations can be achieved using nonionic block copolymers with rationally designed homopolymer segments, thus generating biocompatible monodisperse SWNTs for a range of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4725-4732
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 24 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biotechnology
  • Carbon nanotube
  • Density gradient ultracentrifugation
  • Pluronic
  • Separation
  • Sorting
  • Tetronic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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