Free energy of solvation of carbon nanotubes in pyridinium-based ionic liquids

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Chaban, Vitaly V. [UNIFESP]
Fileti, Eudes Eterno [UNIFESP]
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Numerous prospective applications require the availability of individual carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Pristine CNTs, strongly hydrophobic in nature, are known to be either totally insoluble or poorly dispersible. While it is unlikely to be possible to prepare a real solution of CNTs in any solvent, the ability of certain solvents to maintain dispersions of CNTs for macroscopic times constitutes great research interest. In the present work, we characterize two pyridinium-based ionic liquids (ILs), N-butylpyridinium chloride [BPY][Cl] and N-butylpyridinium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl) imide [BPY][TFSI], with respect to their potential to solvate CNTs of different diameters, from the CNT (10,10) to the CNT (25,25). Using a universal methodology, we found that both ILs exhibit essentially the same solvation performance. Solvation of CNTs is strongly prohibited entropically, whereas the energy penalty increases monotonically with the CNT diameter. Weak van der Waals interactions, which guide enthalpy alteration upon the CNT solvation, are unable to compensate for the large entropic penalty from the destruction of the IL-IL electrostatic interactions. The structure of ILs inside and outside CNTs is also discussed. The reported results are necessary for gaining a fundamental understanding of the CNT solvation problems, thereby inspiring the search for more suitable solvents.
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. Cambridge, v. 18, n. 30, p. 20357-20362, 2016.