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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 2011, 13(22), 10818-10822

Impurities within carbon nanotubes govern the electrochemical oxidation of substituted hydrazines

Electrochemistry and electrocatalysis on carbon nanomaterials is at the forefront of research. The presence of carbonaceous and metallic impurities within carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is a persistent problem. Here we show that the electrochemistry of the entire group of hydrazine compounds is governed by impurities within single-walled, double-walled and few-walled CNTs. The oxidation of organic substituted hydrazines at CNTs is driven by nanographitic impurities, in contrast to unsubstituted hydrazine, for which the electrochemistry is driven by metallic impurities within CNTs. This finding is unexpected, as one would assume that a whole group of compounds would be susceptible to "electrocatalysis'' by only one type of impurity. This discovery should be taken into account when predicting the susceptibility of whole groups of compounds to electrocatalysis by metallic or nanographitic impurities. Our findings have strong implications on the electrochemical sensing of hydrazines and on the use of hydrazines as fuels for nanomotors.

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