Carbon Nanotubes: Chemistry


Robert C. Haddon Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University of California--Riverside

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The discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the early 1990s has stimulated intensive research to characterize their structure and properties. The outstanding electronic and mechanical properties suggest that CNTs may find application in electronic devices, composite materials, energy storage, field emission, biology, medicine, and chemical sensors. Most of these applications take advantage of the structure and physical properties of CNTs, such as high mechanical strength, excellent thermal and electric conductivity, high aspect ratio, and the hollow cavity. Chemical functionalization has been employed to tailor the properties of CNTs and to enhance the ability to manipulate CNTs.

CNTs contain only conjugated carbon atoms and therefore they are chemically inert, and this is reflected by their properties such as insolubility in all solvents and low chemical reactivity. The inert nature of CNTs limits the available identification and characterization tools, and hinders the manipulation and application of carbon nanotubes. Chemical functionalization of CNTs is a useful tool for addressing these problems, and functionalized CNTs have found broad application, including composite materials, sensors, and biomaterials. In the present article we review the structure and properties of CNTs, but in the main we focus on the chemistry of carbon nanotubes including previous work and recent development.