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Probing of polymer to carbon nanotube surface interactions within highly aligned electrospun nanofibers for advanced composites

DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2018.06.019 DOI Help

Authors: Simon G. King (Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey; Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd) , Nicholas J. Terrill (Diamond Light Source) , Andrew J. Goodwin (Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd) , Robert Stevens (Nottingham Trent University) , Vlad Stolojan (Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey) , S. Ravi P. Silva (Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey)
Co-authored by industrial partner: Yes

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Carbon , VOL 138 , PAGES 207 - 214

State: Published (Approved)
Published: November 2018

Abstract: By electrospinning poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO)-blended sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) functionalized carbon nanotube (CNT) solutions, we engineered single- and double-walled nanotubes into highly aligned arrays. CNT alignment was measured using electron microscopy and polarised Raman spectroscopy. Mechanical tensile testing demonstrates that a CNT loading of 3.9 wt% increases the ultimate tensile strength and ductility of our composites by over a factor of 3, and the Young's modulus by over a factor of 4, to ∼260 MPa. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) reveals how the aligned nanotubes provide a solid structure, preventing polymer chains from slipping, as well as polymer crystallisation structures such as ‘shish-kebabs’ forming, which are responsible for the improved mechanical properties of the composite. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) reveals micellar and hexagonal columnar structures along the axis of the fibers, some of which are associated with the presence of the CNT, where these hexagonal structures are associated with the SDS functionalization on the CNT surfaces. This work demonstrates the benefits of CNT alignment within composites, revealing the effectiveness of the electrospinning technique, which enables significantly improved functionality, increasing the utility of the composites for use in many different technological areas.

Subject Areas: Materials

Beamlines: I22-Small angle scattering & Diffraction