L. Maggini, T. Marangoni, B. Georges, J. M. Malicka, K. Yoosaf, A. Minoia, R. Lazzaroni, N. Armaroli, D. Bonifazi,
Nanoscale 2013, 5, 634-645
Photothermally responsive supramolecular polymers containing azobenzene units have been synthesised and employed as dispersants for multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) in organic solvents. Upon triggering the trans–cis isomerisation of the supramolecular polymer intermolecular interactions between MWCNTs and the polymer are established, reversibly affecting the suspensions of the MWCNTs, either favouring it (by heating, i.e. cis → trans isomerisation) or inducing the CNTs’ precipitation (upon irradiation, trans → cis isomerisation). Taking advantage of the chromophoric properties of the molecular subunits, the solubilisation/precipitation processes have been monitored by UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy. The structural properties of the resulting MWCNT–polymer hybrid materials have been thoroughly investigated via thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) and modelled with molecular dynamics simulations.