Self-assembly synthesis of decorated nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes with ZnO nanoparticles: Anchoring mechanism and the effects of sulfur

Eduardo Gracia-Espino, Florentino López-Urías, Humberto Terrones, Mauricio Terrones

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9 Scopus citations


Hybrid systems consisting of ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) anchored on the surface of nitrogen-doped multiwalled carbon nanotubes (CNX-MWNTs) have been synthesized. The anchoring process consists of a self-assembly method involving the mixing of CNX-MWNTs in a solution with N,N-dimethylformamide, zinc acetylacetonate, and thiophene. Thiophene is used as a capping agent for controlling the size and distribution of ZnO-NPs, as well as an anchoring element between the NPs and the nanotube walls. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy characterization revealed that the ZnO-NPs are homogeneously deposited on the surface of CNX-MWNTs. X-ray powder diffraction analysis demonstrated that the ZnO-NPs exhibit a Wurtzite-type crystal structure with an average particle diameter of 5 nm. We also show that the ZnO-NPs do not exhibit a preferential growth direction with respect to the nanotube surface, and their formation is simply controlled by the concentration of the passivating agent. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations confirm that sulfur (from thiophene) is an effective passivating agent for ZnO by preferentially binding low-coordinated Zn atoms. However, the ZnO-NPs could be chemically bonded to the nanotubes through oxygen atoms close to the nitrogenated sites of the tubes. Our results also demonstrate that isolated and sulfur passivated ZnO-NPs become magnetic and exhibit half-metallicity (electronic states with only one spin component are present at the Fermi level). Sulfur-passivated ZnO retains these properties even after forming ZnO/CNX-MWNT hybrid materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-747
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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