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Carbon nanotubes: are they dispersed or dissolved in liquids?

Kurt Ernst Geckeler12* and Thathan Premkumar2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nanobio Materials and Electronics, World-Class University (WCU), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea

2 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, South Korea

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:136  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-136

Published: 11 February 2011


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) constitute a novel class of nanomaterials with remarkable applications in diverse domains. However, the main intrincsic problem of CNTs is their insolubility or very poor solubility in most of the common solvents. The basic key question here is: are carbon nanotubes dissolved or dispersed in liquids, specifically in water? When analyzing the scientific research articles published in various leading journals, we found that many researchers confused between "dispersion" and "solubilization" and use the terms interchangeably, particularly when stating the interaction of CNTs with liquids. In this article, we address this fundamental issue to give basic insight specifically to the researchers who are working with CNTs as well asgenerally to scientists who deal with nano-related research domains.