Visualization of individual single-walled carbon nanotubes by fluorescent polymer wrapping

Nano Lett. 2005 Aug;5(8):1563-7. doi: 10.1021/nl050840h.


Manipulating optical properties of single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) is necessary for the development of nanoscale optical devices and probes for biomedical research. In life sciences it will make possible the direct observation of SWNTs inside living cells using optical microscopes. In the nanotechnology field it will enable the development of nanosensors with fluorescent reporting. However, the direct fluorescent labeling of SWNTs is obstructed by their strong light quenching qualities. Besides, chemical functionalization of SWNTs needed for the covalent attachment of fluorescent dyes could change favorable properties of nanotubes. Here we report that optical properties of SWNTs can be manipulated without their covalent modification by wrapping them with fluorescently labeled polymer poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP-1300). Fluorescent PVP-1300 forms a monomolecular approximately 2.5 nm thick layer coiling around individual SWNTs and nanotube bundles. PVP casing is fluorescent although it is only several nanometers thick. This makes individual SWNTs observable by a fluorescent microscope. The spare polymer strands left over after wrapping around the relatively shorter nanotubes form junctions between SWNTs tying them together into new configurations, primarily Y- and psi-type junctions. The ability to use a single fluorescent polymer strand to fasten nanotubes together can be useful in assembly of nanotube-made devices. In PVP-covered SWNTs multiple fluorophores are attached to each single nanotube making them unique composite fluorophores attractive as parts of biological fluorescent probes and in the development of the new materials in photonics and nanotechnology.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Image Enhancement
  • Materials Testing / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Molecular Probe Techniques*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / ultrastructure*
  • Optical Devices
  • Particle Size
  • Polymers / analysis
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Povidone / analysis
  • Povidone / chemistry*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Polymers
  • Povidone