Controlled substitutional nitrogen-doping is a powerful methodology to modify the properties of carbon nanostructures and produce functional materials for electrocatalysis, energy conversion and storage, and sensing, among others.
Among the different nitrogen-doping methodologies in carbon nanotubes, wall-selectivity is very challenging but provides numerous opportunities for establishing and understanding the fundamental properties of nitrogen-doped nanocarbons and for developing their potential applications.
In this article published in Angewandte Chemie, the group at POLYMAT lead by the Ikerbasque researcher Koke Mateo, in collaboration with groups from the University of Vienna, the University of Nottingham, the University of Aveiro and the University of Bologna, have reported a wall-selective synthetic methodology to produce double-walled carbon nanotubes. Such coaxial carbon nanotubes have been prepared in two steps by subliming a nitrogen-rich polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon inside the cavity of empty single-walled carbon nanotubes. Then, the encapsulated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are transformed into an inner nanotube doped with graphitic nitrogen.
Overall this method enables the synthesis of nitrogen-doped nanocarbons with an unprecedented level of control enabling the investigation and subsequent harnessing of their functional properties.