Rational Engineering of Carbon Nanotube Surfaces
Ideal multifunctional carbon nanotube/epoxy composites will find broad aerospace and earth science applications that require lightweight materials with high electrical conductivity, high mechanical strength and high thermal conductivity. Smooth carbon nanotube sidewalls, however, are incompatible with most solvents and polymers resulting in poor dispersion of nanotubes in polymer matrix, and are difficult to functionalize without altering nanotube's desirable intrinsic properties producing poor adhesion between nanotube and polymer matrix. These factors have resulted in prior studies failing to produce nanotube/polymer composites that realize their full potential. Zyvex proposes to develop a versatile, non-damaging chemistry to rationally engineer carbon nanotubes. This functionalization will enable solubility in organic solvents, which allows homogeneous dispersion of nanotubes in a polymer matrix and can also enable the enhanced adhesion between nanotube and matrix. While this technology will be widely applicable, we will concentrate on epoxy-nanotube composites. In Phase I, Zyvex will develop the proposed innovative nanotube surface chemistry, and demonstrate the fabrication of homogeneous nanotube-epoxy composites with enhanced multiple performances. In Phase II, Zyvex will focus on further improving the nanotube/epoxy adhesions by using the nanotube chemistry developed in Phase I, and will demonstrate the superior multiple performances of nanotube-epoxy composites for task-specific NASA applications.
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