Electrochemistry at single-walled carbon nanotubes: The role of band structure and quantum capacitance

Iddo Heller, Jing Kong, Keith A. Williams, Cees Dekker, Serge G. Lemay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


We present a theoretical description of the kinetics of electrochemical charge transfer at single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) electrodes, explicitly taking into account the SWNT electronic band structure. SWNTs have a distinct and low density of electronic states (DOS), as expressed by a small value of the quantum capacitance. We show that this greatly affects the alignment and occupation of electronic states in voltammetric experiments and thus the electrode kinetics. We model electrochemistry at metallic and semiconducting SWNTs as well as at graphene by applying the Gerischer-Marcus model of electron transfer kinetics. We predict that the semiconducting or metallic SWNT band structure and its distinct van Hove singularities can be resolved in voltammetry, in a manner analogous to scanning tunneling spectroscopy. Consequently, SWNTs of different atomic structure yield different rate constants due to structure-dependent variations in the DOS. Interestingly, the rate of charge transfer does not necessarily vanish in the band gap of a semiconducting SWNT, due to significant contributions from states which are a few k BT away from the Fermi level. The combination of a nanometer critical dimension and the distinct band structure makes SWNTs a model system for studying the effect of the electronic structure of the electrode on electrochemical charge transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7353-7359
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

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