Photoluminescence from inner walls in double-walled carbon nanotubes: some do, some do not.


Double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWNTs) have recently been recognized as important members in the carbon nanotube family because they are expected to have certain unique properties. For example, DWNTs are expected to replace single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in biomarker applications and optoelectronics if the observed luminescence from DWNTs can be verified. However, due to unavoidable byproducts, such as SWNTs, optical properties of DWNTs still remain controversial. There is an ongoing debate concerning the ability of DWNTs to exhibit photoluminescence (PL). In this report, we aim to clearly resolve this debate through the study of carefully separated DWNTs. DWNTs were successfully separated from SWNTs using density gradient ultracentrifugation. Here we clearly show that light is emitted from the inner wall of DWNTs; however, the intensity of the emission is significantly quenched. Interestingly, it was found that a very narrow range of diameters of the inner walls of DWNTs is required for PL to be observable. All other diameters led to complete PL quenching in DWNTs. In short, we have shown that both sides of the debate are correct under certain situations. The real answer to the question is that some DWNTs do emit light but most DWNTs do not.