Modeling the phase behavior of polydisperse rigid rods with attractive interactions with applications to single-walled carbon nanotubes in superacids Academic Article uri icon


  • The phase behavior of rodlike molecules with polydisperse length and solvent-mediated attraction and repulsion is described by an extension of the Onsager theory for rigid rods. A phenomenological square-well potential is used to model these long-range interactions, and the model is used to compute phase separation and length fractionation as a function of well depth and rod concentration. The model closely captures experimental data points for isotropic/liquid crystalline phase coexistence of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) in superacids. The model also predicts that the isotropic-biphasic boundary approaches zero as the acid strength diminishes, with the possibility of coexistence of isotropic and liquid crystalline phases at very low concentrations; this counterintuitive prediction is confirmed experimentally. Experimental deviations from classical theories for rodlike liquid crystals are explained in terms of polydispersity and the balance between short-range repulsion and long-range attractions. The predictions of the model also hold practical importance for applications of SWCNT/superacid solutions, particularly in the processing of fibers and films from liquid crystalline SWCNT/superacid mixtures.

author list (cited authors)

  • Green, M. J., Parra-Vasquez, A., Behabtu, N., & Pasquali, M.

citation count

  • 47

publication date

  • August 2009