Large-scale single-chirality separation of single-wall carbon nanotubes by simple gel chromatography

Nat Commun. 2011;2:309. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1313.


Monostructured single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are important in both scientific research and electronic and biomedical applications; however, the bulk separation of SWCNTs into populations of single-chirality nanotubes remains challenging. Here we report a simple and effective method for the large-scale chirality separation of SWCNTs using a single-surfactant multicolumn gel chromatography method utilizing one surfactant and a series of vertically connected gel columns. This method is based on the structure-dependent interaction strength of SWCNTs with an allyl dextran-based gel. Overloading an SWCNT dispersion on the top column results in the adsorption sites of the column becoming fully occupied by the nanotubes that exhibit the strongest interaction with the gel. The unbound nanotubes flow through to the next column, and the nanotubes with the second strongest interaction with the gel are adsorbed in this stage. In this manner, 13 different (n, m) species were separated. Metallic SWCNTs were finally collected as unbound nanotubes because they exhibited the lowest interaction with the gel.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Chromatography, Gel / methods*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Sepharose
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Sepharose