The invention generally relates to purification of carbon nanomaterials, particularly fullerenes, by removal of PAHs and other hydrocarbon impurities. The inventive process involves extracting a sample containing carbon nanomaterials with a solvent in which the PAHs are substantially soluble but in which the carbon nanomaterials are not substantially soluble. The sample can be repeatedly or continuously extracted with one or more solvents to remove a greater amount of impurities. Preferred solvents include ethanol, diethyl ether, and acetone. The invention also provides a process for efficiently separating solvent extractable fullerenes from samples containing fullerenes and PAHs wherein the sample is extracted with a solvent in which both fullerenes and PAHs are substantially soluble and the sample extract then undergoes selective extraction to remove PAHs. Suitable solvents in which both fullerenes and PAHs are soluble include o-xylene, toluene, and o-dichlorobenzene. The purification process is capable of treating quantities of combustion soot in excess of one kilogram and can produce fullerenes or fullerenic soot of suitable purity for many applications.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The invention was made with funding from the United States government through the U.S. Department of Energy PETC under contract DE-FG03-98ER82692. The United States government has certain rights in this invention.