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Effect of Side-Chain Structure of Rigid Polyimide Dispersant on Mechanical Properties of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube/Cyanate Ester Composite

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journal contribution
posted on 25.05.2011, 00:00 by Wei Yuan, Weifeng Li, Yuguang Mu, Mary B. Chan-Park
Three kinds of polymer, polyimide without side-chain (PI), polyimide-graft-glyceryl 4-nonylphenyl ether (PI-GNE), and polyimide-graft-bisphenol A diglyceryl acrylate (PI-BDA), have been synthesized and used to disperse single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and to improve the interfacial bonding between SWNTs and cyanate ester (CE) matrix. Visual observation, UV–vis–near–IR (UV–vis–NIR) spectra, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) images show that both PI-GNE and PI-BDA are highly effective at dispersing and debundling SWNTs in DMF, whereas PI is less effective. Interaction between SWNTs and PI, PI-GNE or PI-BDA was confirmed by computer simulation and Raman spectra. A series of CE-based composite films reinforced with different loadings of SWNTs, SWNTs/PI, SWNTs/PI-GNE and SWNTs/PI-BDA were prepared by solution casting. It was found that, because of the unique side-chain structure of PI-BDA, SWNTs/PI-BDA disperse better in CE matrix than do SWNTs/PI-GNE, SWNTs/PI, and SWNTs. As a result, SWNTs/PI-BDA/CE composites have the greatest improvement in mechanical properties of the materials tested. These results imply that the choice of side-chain on a dispersant is very important to the dispersion of SWNTs in matrix and the filler/matrix interfacial adhesion, which are two key requirements for achieving effective reinforcement.