Functionalization of carbon nanotubes and other nanocarbons by azide chemistry


Following the conventional carbon allotropes of diamond and graphite, fullerene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene as 0D, 1D and 2D graphitic macromolecules have been discovered recently in succession, declaring the unlimited potential of carbon-based nanomaterials and nanotechnology. Although CNTs exhibit significant potential applications in advanced materials and other fields due to their extraordinary mechanical strength and electrical/thermal conductivity properties, their low solubility, poor wettability and bad dispersibility in common solvents and solid matrices have limited their processing and applications. Thus, the attempt to achieve wettable/processable CNTs by functionalization has attracted increasing attention in both scientific and industrial communities. In recent years, azide chemistry has been demonstrated as a powerful means to covalently modify CNTs. It consists of two major approaches: click chemistry and nitrene chemistry, which both involve the usage of various azide compounds. The former one is based on highly reactive and stereospecifical Cu(I) catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition reaction; the latter one is based on the electrophilic attack to unsaturated bonds of CNTs with nitrenes as reactive intermediates formed from thermolysis or photolysis of azides. In this mini-review paper, the azide chemistry to functionalize CNTs is highlighted and the corresponding functionalization routes to build CNT-based complex structures are also discussed. Besides, covalent functionalizations of other graphitic nanomaterials such as fullerence and graphene, via azide chemistry, are commented briefly.

Keywords: Carbon nanotubes; Functionalization; Click chemistry; Nitrene chemistry; Nanocomposites; Fullerene; Graphene

 Citation: Jin Han, and Chao Gao, “Functionalization of carbon nanotubes and other nanocarbons by azide chemistry”, Nano-Micro Lett. 2, 154 (2010). doi:10.5101/nml.v2i2.p213-226