Nanocomposite Fiber Systems Processed from Fluorinated Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes and a Polypropylene Matrix
Daneesh MacIntosh, Rice University, Houston, TX, Valery N. Khabashesku, Rice University, Houston, TX, and Enrique V. Barrera, Rice University, Houston, TX.
Processing composites of carbon nanotubes into nanotube continuous fibers (NCFs) is an effective way of manipulating the anisotropic properties of the single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) as it becomes less difficult to transform the SWNTs into an aligned configuration when they are confined in a small diameter fiber. This helps to take fuller advantage of the high mechanical properties of the SWNT materials in the axial direction. However, in creating nanocomposite fiber systems, the issues of dispersion and nanotube-matrix interaction and adhesion become of utmost importance when improved mechanical properties are anticipated. In addressing these issues in this work it has been found that sidewall chemical functionalization can be an effective tool for improving both the dispersion and interaction between the nanotube and the matrix. This work evaluates the effect of sidewall functional groups on fluorinated single-walled carbon nanotubes (F-SWNTs) as a precursor for improved interfacial adhesion in a thermoplastic matrix (polypropylene, PP) via partial defluorination of the F-SWNTs. The partial removal of functional groups from the F-SWNTs during melt processing with PP by shear mixing provides the opportunity for in situ direct covalent bonding between the nanotubes and the matrix during melt processing which ultimately results in better mechanical reinforcement of the composite. The studies conducted herein demonstrate that in comparison with PP composites filled with purified nanotubes (P-SWNTs), improved dispersion, interfacial adhesion, and mechanical properties are achieved for F-SWNT-loaded matrixes due to chemical functionalization.