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Highly-Tunable Polymer/Carbon Nanotubes Systems: Preserving Dispersion Architecture in Solid Composites via Rapid Microfiltration

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posted on 2012-07-17, 00:00 authored by Guy Mechrez, Ran Y. Suckeveriene, Evgeni Zelikman, Jasmine Rosen, Nava Ariel-Sternberg, Rina Cohen, Moshe Narkis, Ester Segal
This research presents a new fabrication method for tailoring polymer/carbon nanotube (CNT) nanostructures with controlled architecture and composition. The CNTs are finely dispersed in polymeric latex, that is, polyacrylate, via ultrasonication, followed by a microfiltration process. The latter step allows preserving the homogeneous dispersion structure in the resulting solid nanocomposite. The combination of microfiltration and proper choice of the polymer latex, particle size, and composition allows the design of complex nanostructures with tunable properties, for example, porosity and mechanical properties. An important attribute of this methodology is the ability to tailor any desired composition of polymer–CNT systems, that is, nanotube content can practically vary anywhere between 0 to 100 wt %. Thus, for the first time, a given polymer/CNT system is studied over the entire CNTs composition, resembling two-phase polymer blends. The polyacrylate in these systems exhibits a structural transition from a continuous matrix (nanocomposite) to segregated domains dispersed within a porous CNTs network. An analogy of this structural transition to phase inversion phenomena in two-phase polymer blends is suggested. The resulting polyacrylate/CNT layers exhibit a percolation threshold as low as 0.04 wt %. Additionally, these nanomaterials show low total reflectance values throughout the visible, NIR and SWIR spectrum at a CNT content as low as 1 wt %, demonstrating their potential applicability for optical devices.

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