Mechanism of oxidative unzipping of multiwall carbon nanotubes to graphene nanoribbons

Unzipping multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) attracted great interest as a method for producing graphene nanoribbons (GNRs). However, depending on the production method, the GNRs have been proposed to form by different mechanisms. Here, we demonstrate that the oxidative unzipping of MWCNTs is intercalation-driven, not oxidative chemical-bond cleavage as was formerly proposed. The unzipping mechanism involves three consecutive steps: intercalation-unzipping, oxidation, and exfoliation.

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