Surface modification of multiwall carbon nanotubes by sulfonitric treatment
Carbon nanotubes are widely used for electronic, mechanical, and optical devices due to their unique structural and quantum characteristics. The species generated by oxidation on the surface of these materials permit binding new reaction chains, which improves the dispersibility, processing and compatibility with other materials. Even though different acid treatments and applications of these CNT have been reported, relatively few research studies have focused on the relationship between the acid treatment and the formation of nanodefects, specific oxidized species or CNT surface defects. In this work, multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) oxidation at 90°C was characterized in order to determine the acid treatment effect on the surface. It was found that oxidized species are already present in MWCNT without an acid treatment, but there are not enough to cause water-based dispersion. The species were identified and quantified by infrared spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Also, transmission electron microscopy observations showed not only modifications of the oxidized species, but also morphological damage on the surfaces of MWCNT after being subjected to the acid treatment. This effect was also confirmed by Raman spectroscopy. The acid treatment generates higher oxidized species, decreasing the zeta potential in the whole pH range.