Micelle-encapsulated carbon nanotubes: A route to nanotube composites

Youngjong Kang, T. Andrew Taton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

306 Scopus citations


We report a general approach toward dispersing single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in solvents and polymer materials, by encapsulating SWNTs within cross-linked micelles. Micelles made from polystyrene-block-poly(acrylic acid) (PS-b-PAA), an amphiphilic block copolymer, are first assembled around SWNTs by gradually adding H2O to a suspension of nanotubes in dimethylformamide. The hydrophilic, outer shells of these micelles are then chemically cross-linked with a difunctional linker molecule. Pure encapsulated SWNTs (e-SWNTs) can then be separated from empty cross-linked micelles by consecutive cycles of centrifugation and redispersion. Atomic force and transmission electron microscopies of the resulting nanostructures demonstrate that individual nanotubes (rather than bundles) have been completely encased in polymer shells whose thickness is slightly larger than that of empty micelles. e-SWNTs encapsulated in PS-b-PAA can be permanently redispersed in H2O, in organic solvents, and in both hydrophobic and hydrophilic polymer matrices with minimal sonication. Micelle encapsulation could improve the compositing of SWNTs in a wide variety of polymer materials for structural, electronic, and thermal applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5650-5651
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 14 2003

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