Characterization Challenges for Applications of Carbon Nanomaterials
Carbon nanomaterials (CNMs), such as carbon nanotubes and graphene products, have useful properties with applications that include improved semiconductor devices, stronger composite materials, and better strategies for energy storage. CNMs are also under development for a range of biomedical applications from drug delivery to targeted destruction of tumors. It is essential to have very high quality control of CNM preparations in most applications to ensure reproducible and predictable behavior. However, the adequate chemical and physical characterization of CNMs is challenging. A collateral issue in characterization is assessing the potential ESH risks of CNMs because it is difficult to interpret or predict toxicity results with materials that contain erratic levels of toxic impurities. The first part of the talk will briefly review the major approaches for characterizing CNMs and provide examples to illustrate complications in working with commercially available carbon nanotubes. The second part of the talk will relate the importance of characterization to studies on carbon nanotube toxicity and conclude with an overview of current concerns regarding the potential toxicity of CNMs.