Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Bruce Hinds


Electrochemical diazonium grafting offers versatile functionalization of chemically inert graphite under mild condition, which is particularly suitable for CNT composite modification. Tetrafluorinated carboxylphenyl diazonium grafting provides the most controllable functionalization chemistry allowing near monolayer levels of functionality on carbon nanotubes. The functional density was successfully quantified by anion selective dye-assay and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) of thiol-Au self-assembled monolayers (SAM) as a calibration reference. This technique enables monolayer functionality at the tips of carbon nanotube membranes for biomimetic pumps and valves as well as thin conductive layers for CNT-based high area electrochemical support electrodes.

Double-walled carbon nanotube (DWCNT) membranes were functionalized with sterically bulky dye molecules with amine termination in a single step functionalization process. Non-faradic (EIS) spectra indicated that the functionalized gatekeeper by single-step modification can be actuated to mimic protein channel under bias. This functional chemistry on membranes resulted in rectification factors of up to 14.4 with potassium ferricyanide in trans-membrane electrochemical measurements. One step functionalization by electrooxidation of amines provides simple and promising functionalization chemistry for the application of CNT membranes.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are considered a promising catalyst support due to high surface area, conductivity and stability. But very few cases of asymmetric catalysis have been reported using CNTs as support. Three noncovalent functionalization approaches have been carried out to immobilize Rh-Josiphos complex on CNTs for asymmetric hydrogenation of dimethyl itaconate. Coordinated Rh catalyst on CNTs exhibited excellent activity and reuse ability even after seventh run in hydrogenation but no enantiomeric excess as expected for lacking a chiral directing ligand. The catalyst using pyrene absorption gave 100% yield and excellent enantiomer excess (>90%) but suffered from leaching into solution. The phosphotungstic acid (PTA) anchored catalyst gave 100% yield and higher ee (99%) and better reusability over pyrene absorbed catalyst but had significant leaching after the second run. At this point it remains a significant challenge to utilize CNTs as a chiral catalyst support.