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Incorporation of Carbon Nanotubes into a Lyotropic Liquid Crystal by Phase Separation in the Presence of a Hydrophilic Polymer

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journal contribution
posted on 02.03.2010, 00:00 by Xia Xin, Hongguang Li, Stefan A. Wieczorek, Tomasz Szymborski, Ewelina Kalwarczyk, Natalia Ziebacz, Ewa Gorecka, Damian Pociecha, Robert Hołyst
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were incorporated into a lyotropic liquid crystal (LLC) matrix formed by n-dodecyl octaoxyethene monoether (C12E6) at room temperature through spontaneous phase separation induced by nonionic hydrophilic polymer poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). The quality of SWNTs/LLC composite was evaluated by polarized microscopy observations and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements. The results obtained clearly indicated that SWNTs have been successfully incorporated into the LLC matrix up to a considerable high content without destroying the LLC matrix, although interesting changes of the LLC matrix were also induced by SWNTs incorporation. By varying the ratio of PEG to C12E6, the type of LLC matrix can be controlled from hexagonal phase to lamellar phase. Temperature was found to have a significant influence on the quality of SWNTs/LLC composite, and tube aggregation can be induced at higher temperature. When SWNTs were changed to multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs), they became difficult to be incorporated into LLC matrix because of an increase in the average tube diameter.