Multiwalled carbon nanotube polymer composites: Synthesis and characterization of thin films

B. Safadi, R. Andrews, E. A. Grulke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

539 Scopus citations


The aim of this article was to elucidate the basic relationships between processing conditions and the mechanical and electrical properties of multiwalled carbon nanotube reinforced polymer composites. In conventional chopped fiber reinforced polymer composites, uniform distributions of fibers throughout the matrix are critical to producing materials with superior physical properties. Previous methods have dispersed carbon nanotubes by aggressive chemical modification of the nanotubes or by the use of a surfactant prior to dispersion. Here, ultrasonic energy was used to uniformly disperse multiwalled nanotubes (MWNTs) in solutions and to incorporate them into composites without chemical pretreatment. Polystyrene (PS) solutions containing MWNTs were cast and spun to yield thin film MWNT composites. The rheology of PS/MWNT suspensions was modeled using the Carreau equation. MWNTs were found to align at the shear rates generated by the spin casting process. The tensile modulus and strain to failure of samples compared well to classical micromechanical models, increasing with MWNT loading. The composite films showed lower strains at the yield stress than neat PS films. The presence of MWNTs at 2.5 vol % fraction approximately doubles the tensile modulus, and transforms the film from insulating to conductive (surface resistivity, ρ, approaching 103 Ω/□).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2660-2669
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jun 28 2002


  • Nanotubes
  • Polymer-based nanocomposites
  • Shear alignment
  • Structural properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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