Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been treated using 20 kHz ultrasound in combination with dilute nitric and sulfuric acids at much lower concentrations than previously reported. The measurements revealed an optimum set of sonication conditions (in this case 30 min at 12 W cm−2) exists to overcome aggregation of the nanotubes and to allow efficient dispersion in ethanol or in chitosan. Transmission electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy suggested the removal of amorphous material and reduction of the CNT diameter as well as modifications to their defect structures. The surface oxidation was determined by FTIR spectroscopy. At longer times or higher ultrasound intensities, degradation such as nanotube shortening and additional defect generation in the graphitic network occurred and the benefits of using ultrasound decreased. The modified CNTs were used as fillers for chitosan films and gave a tenfold increase in tensile strength and integrity of the films. The methodology was combined with sonochemical generation of gold or iron oxide nanoparticles to produce a range of functional membranes for catalytic reductive hydrogenation or dye degradation under conditions that are more environmentally benign than those previously used. Our results further add to the usefulness of sonochemistry as a valuable tool in preparative materials chemistry but also illustrate the crucial importance of careful control over the experimental conditions if optimum results are to be obtained.
- 20 kHz ultrasound
- Carbon nanotube
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics