Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) of differing diameter, length and metallic catalyst impurities are characterized for the purpose of devising the method of photo-ignition of SWCNTs. A sample proven to photo-ignite, with Fe catalyst particles and diameters of 0.8-1.2 nm, and a sample that does not exhibit photo-ignition, with Ni/Y catalyst particles and diameters from 1.2-1.5 nm, are comparatively analyzed. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) is performed on the varying samples to determine micro-scale structure and elemental composition of the nanotube samples. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) is conducted to discern differences in oxidation temperatures for the reactive components of the samples. BET analysis is performed to characterize the surface area of the particles, as it relates to radiative energy absorption. Absorbance spectra are measured in the visible and near infrared range to determine sensitivity of the SWCNTs to differing wavelengths of light.