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Affinity Capillary Electrophoresis Method to Assess Carboxylation of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes
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  • Pubmed ID:
    29866264
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC6484226
  • Description:
    Surface oxidation improves the dispersion of carbon nanotubes in aqueous solutions and plays a key role in the development of biosensors, electrochemical detectors and polymer composites. Accurate characterization of the carbon nanotube surface is important because the development of these nano-based applications depends on the degree of functionalization, in particular the amount of carboxylation. Affinity capillary electrophoresis is used to characterize the oxidation of multi-walled carbon nanotubes. A polytryptophan peptide that contains a single arginine residue (WRWWWW) serves as a receptor in affinity capillary electrophoresis to assess the degree of carboxylation. The formation of peptide-nanotube receptor-ligand complex was detected with a UV absorbance detector. Apparent dissociation constants (K|) are obtained by observing the migration shift of the WRWWWW peptide through background electrolyte at increasing concentrations of multi-walled carbon nanotubes. A 20% relative standard deviation in method reproducibility and repeatability is determined with triplicate analysis within a single sample preparation and across multiple sample preparations for a commercially available carbon nanotube. Affinity capillary electrophoresis is applied to assess differences in degree of carboxylation across two manufacturers and to analyze acid treated carbon nanotubes. The results of these studies are compared to X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and zeta potential. Affinity capillary electrophoresis comparisons of carbon nanotube samples prepared by varying acid treatment time from 30 min to 3 h yielded significant differences in degree of carboxylation. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis was inconclusive due to potential acid contamination, while zeta potential showed no change based on surface charge. This work is significant to research involving carbon nanotube-based applications because it provides a new metric to rapidly characterize carbon nanotubes obtained from different vendors, or synthesized in laboratories using different procedures.

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