Structural modifications of ionic liquid surfactants for improving the water dispersibility of carbon nanotubes: an experimental and theoretical study
The 1-hexadecyl-3-vinylimidazolium bromide (hvimBr), a water-soluble long-chain imidazolium ionic liquid (IL) with surfactant properties, showed the ability to produce stable homogeneous aqueous dispersions of pristine Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWNTs). The purpose of this study is the improvement of SWNT dispersing ability by assessing the effect of different groups in position 3 of the imidazole ring. In this regard structural analogues were synthesized and, after characterization, their capability to dissolve SWNTs in water was investigated. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been performed to provide a semi-quantitative indication of the affinity of each dispersing agent toward SWNT and to attempt an explanation of the experimental results.