A two-step process is utilized for cutting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). The first step requires the breakage of carbon-carbon bonds in the lattice while the second step is aimed at etching at these damage sites to create short, cut nanotubes. To achieve monodisperse lengths from any cutting strategy requires control of both steps. Room-temperature piranha and ammonium persulfate solutions have shown the ability to exploit the damage sites and etch SWNTs in a controlled manner. Despite the aggressive nature of these oxidizing solutions, the etch rate for SWNTs is relatively slow and almost no new sidewall damage is introduced. Carbon-carbon bond breakage can be introduced through fluorination to ∼C2F, and subsequent etching using piranha solutions has been shown to be very effective in cutting nanotubes. The final average length of the nanotubes is approximately 100 nm with carbon yields as high as 70-80%.