Indexed on: 02 Dec '11Published on: 02 Dec '11Published in: ACS Nano
Using near-infrared fluorescence videomicroscopy with spectrally selective excitation and imaging, more than 400 individual (10,2) single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have been studied in unsorted liquid dispersions. For each nanotube, the spatially integrated emission intensity was measured under controlled excitation conditions while its length was found either from direct imaging or from the diffusion coefficient computed by analyzing its Brownian motion trajectory. The studied nanotubes ranged in length from 170 to 5300 nm. For any length, a wide variation in emission intensities was observed. These variations are attributed to differing densities of nanotube imperfections that cause fluorescence quenching. The brightest nanotubes at each length (presumed near-pristine) show total emission nearly proportional to length. This implies a nearly constant fluorescence quantum yield and a constant absorption cross section per carbon atom, validating conventional Beer-Lambert analysis for finding concentrations of SWCNT species. Ensemble-averaged emission is also proportional to length, but at only ca. 40% of the near-pristine values. Further research is needed to investigate the extrinsic effects causing wide variation in quantum yields and assess their implications for SWCNT fluorimetry.