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Polymer-Derived Ceramic Composite Fibers with Aligned Pristine Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes

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journal contribution
posted on 28.04.2010, 00:00 by Sourangsu Sarkar, Jianhua Zou, Jianhua Liu, Chengying Xu, Linan An, Lei Zhai
Polymer-derived ceramic fibers with aligned multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are fabricated through the electrospinning of polyaluminasilazane solutions with well-dispersed MWCNTs followed by pyrolysis. Poly(3-hexylthiophene)-b-poly (poly (ethylene glycol) methyl ether acrylate) (P3HT-b-PPEGA), a conjugated block copolymer compatible with polyaluminasilazane, is used to functionalize MWCNT surfaces with PPEGA, providing a noninvasive approach to disperse carbon nanotubes in polyaluminasilazane chloroform solutions. The electrospinning of the MWCNT/polyaluminasilazane solutions generates polymer fibers with aligned MWCNTs where MWCNTs are oriented along the electrospun jet by a sink flow. The subsequent pyrolysis of the obtained composite fibers produces ceramic fibers with aligned MWCNTs. The study of the effect of polymer and CNT concentration on the fiber structures shows that the fiber size increases with the increment of polymer concentration, whereas higher CNT content in the polymer solutions leads to thinner fibers attributable to the increased conductivity. Both the SEM and TEM characterization of the polymer and ceramic fibers demonstrates the uniform orientation of CNTs along the fibers, suggesting excellent dispersion of CNTs and efficient CNT alignment via the electrospinning. The electrical conductivity of a ceramic fibers with 1.2% aligned MWCNTs is measured to be 1.58 × 10−6 S/cm, which is more than 500 times higher than that of bulk ceramic (3.43 × 10−9 S/cm). Such an approach provides a versatile method to disperse CNTs in preceramic polymer solutions and offers a new approach to integrate aligned CNTs in ceramics.