Optical Voltammetry of Polymer-Encapsulated Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

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The semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT), noncovalently wrapped by a polymeric monolayer, is a nanoscale semiconductor-electrolyte interface under investigation for sensing, photonics, and photovoltaic applications. SWCNT complexes are routinely observed to sensitize various electrochemical/redox phenomena, even in the absence of an external field. While the photoluminescence response to gate voltage depends on the redox potential of the nanotube, analogous optical voltammetry of functionalized carbon nanotubes could be conducted in suspension without applying voltage but by varying the solution conditions as well as the chemistry of the encapsulating polymer. Steady-state photoluminescence, absorbance, and in situ measurements of O2/H2O reactivity show correlation with the pH/pKa-dependent reactivity of π-rich coatings. The nanotube emission responses suggest that the presence of photogenerated potential may explain the observed coating electrochemical reactivity. This work finds that electronic and chemical interactions of the nanotube with the encapsulating polymer may play a critical role in applications that depend on radiative recombination, such as optical sensing.

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Journal of Physical Chemistry C