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Small-angle light scattering and ultra small-angle X-ray scattering are used to assess the morphology of single-walled (SWNTs) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). For MWNTs, a power-law scattered-intensity profile with a slope of –1.08 is consistent with the rod-like morphology. For SWNTs, however, scattering profiles characteristic of rod-like morphology are not observed on any length-scale from 1 nm to 50 μm. Rather, disordered objects are found that we identify as a network of carbon "ropes" enmeshed with polyelectrolyte dispersants. The effectiveness of polyelectrolyte dispersants is assessed using small-angle light scattering in conjunction with exposure to ultrasound. In the presence of an anionic polyelectrolyte, sonication can assist dispersion of both SWNTs and MWNTs. In the presence of a cationic agent, however, sonication can induce aggregation. SWNTs respond differently to ultrasound depending on whether residual synthesis catalyst is present. Four dispersants are studied, of which sodium polystyrene sulfonate is the most effective and polyallylamine hydrochloride is the least effective.

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