Toward tailored functional design of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs): Electrochemical and antimicrobial activity enhancement via oxidation and selective reduction

Leanne M. Gilbertson, David G. Goodwin, André D. Taylor, Lisa Pfefferle, Julie B. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) are utilized in a number of sectors as a result of their favorable electronic properties. In addition, MWNT antimicrobial properties can be exploited or considered a potential liability depending on their intended application and handling. The ability to tailor electrochemical and antimicrobial properties using economical and conventional treatment processes introduces the potential to significantly enhance product performance. Oxygen functional groups are known to influence several MWNT properties, including redox activity. Here, MWNTs were functionalized with oxygen groups using standard acid treatments followed by selective reduction via annealing. Chemical derivatization coupled to X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was utilized to quantify specific surface oxygen group concentration after variable treatment conditions, which were then correlated to observed trends in electrochemical and antimicrobial activities. These activities were evaluated as the potential for MWNTs to participate in the oxygen reduction reaction and to have the ability to promote the oxidation of glutathione. The compiled results strongly suggest that the reduction of surface carboxyl groups and the redox activity of carbonyl groups promote enhanced MWNT reactivity and elucidate the opportunity to design functional MWNTs for enhanced performance in their intended electrochemical or antimicrobial application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5938-5945
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 20 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this