The thermal stability of nitrogen (N) functionalities on the sidewalls of N-doped multi-walled carbon nanotubes was investigated at temperatures ranging between 1000 °C and 2000 °C. The structural stability of the doped tubes was then correlated with the electrical conductivity both at the bulk and at the individual tube levels. When as-grown tubes were thermally treated at 1000 °C, we observed a very significant decrease in the electrical resistance of the individual nanotubes, from 54 kΩ to 0.5 kΩ, which is attributed to a low N doping level (e.g. 0.78 at% N). We noted that pyridine-type N was first decomposed whereas the substitutional N was stable up to 1500 °C. For nanotubes heat treated to 1800 °C and 2000 °C, the tubes exhibited an improved degree of crystallinity which was confirmed by both the low R value (ID/IG) in the Raman spectra and the presence of straight graphitic planes observed in TEM images. However, N atoms were not detected in these tubes and caused an increase in their electrical resistivity and resistance. These partially annealed doped tubes with enhanced electrical conductivities could be used in the fabrication of robust and electrically conducting composites, and these results could be extrapolated to N-doped graphene and other nanocarbons.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)