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Pure Appl. Chem., 2011, Vol. 83, No. 8, pp. 1529-1542

Published online 2011-05-17

Dendron-functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes incorporating polyoxometalates for water-splitting catalysis

Francesca Maria Toma1, Andrea Sartorel2, Mauro Carraro2, Marcella Bonchio2 and Maurizio Prato1*

1 Center of Excellence for Nanostructured Materials (CENMAT), INSTM, Department of Pharmaceutical Science, University of Trieste, Piazzale Europa 1, 34127 Trieste, Italy
2 ITM-CNR and Department of Chemical Science, University of Padova, via Marzolo 1, 35131 Padova, Italy

Abstract: Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are versatile nanomaterials with applications spanning from medicinal chemistry and biology, to electronics as field effect transistors or energy as fuel cells. The major drawback stems from the CNT insolubility in most of the organic and aqueous media, which severely hampers the material processability. To overcome this problem, functionalization of CNTs is generally accomplished by either covalent strategies resulting in the modification of the CNT backbone via radical reactions, fluorination, and/or cycloaddition reactions, or noncovalent protocols, exploiting multiple weak interactions (hydrophobic, van der Waals, electrostatic) with suitable reagents. Herein, we highlight that a rewarding approach includes a combination of covalent/noncovalent methods, by a tailored synthetic modification of the CNT surface with polycationic dendrimeric chains, fostering the successive decoration with a multimetallic and polyanionic water oxidation catalyst. The outcome is a hybrid nanomaterial with unperturbed CNT electrical properties, in close contact with a unique multi-electron catalyst enabling electrocatalytic water splitting with high efficiency at low overpotentials.