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Chemical Engineering


Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have recently been utilized as fillers that reduce the flammability and enhance the strength and thermal conductivity of material composites. Enhancing the thermal stability of SWCNTs is crucial when these materials are applied to high temperature applications. In many instances, SWCNTs are applied to composites with surface coatings that are toxic to living organisms. Alternatively, single-stranded DNA, a naturally occurring biological polymer, has recently been utilized to form singly-dispersed hybrids with SWCNTs as well as suppress their known toxicological effects. These hybrids have shown unrivaled stabilities in both aqueous suspension or as a dried material. Furthermore, DNA has certain documented flame-retardant effects due to the creation of a protective char upon heating in the presence of oxygen. Herein, using various thermogravimetric analytical techniques, we find that single-stranded DNA has a significant flame-retardant effect on the SWCNTs, and effectively enhances their thermal stability. Hybridization with DNA results in the elevation of the thermal decomposition temperature of purified SWCNTs in excess of 200 °C. We translate this finding to other carbon nanomaterials including multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), reduced graphene oxide (RGO) and fullerene (C60), and show similar effects upon complexation with DNA. The rate of thermal decomposition of the SWCNTs was also explored and found to significantly depend upon the sequence of DNA that was used.

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