Clean Technology 2009

High Concentration Nanotube Composites Utilizing Preformed Nanotube Sheet and Buckypaper for High Mechanical Performance and Electrical Conductivity Applications

B. Wang, R. Liang, C. Zhang
Florida State University, US

Keywords: Buckypaper, nanotubes, nanocomposite, performance, high mechanical and electrical conductivity


Sponsored by AFOSR, AFRL, ARL and ONR and working with industrial partners, the research team at Florida State University has developed unique manufacturing processes to make high concentration nanotube composites with improved alignment, dispersion and interfacial bonding. The processes combine preforming nanotube networks into thin films (10~30 microns and 20~35g/m2 areal density) of buckypaper and converting the films into prepreg format to substantially improve handlibility and processibility for scaling-up nanotube composite fabrication. The preliminary effort for developing continuous nanotube films and their prepregs has tremendous potential for production scale up. Recently, using a unique nanocomposite manufacturing process, we successfully demonstrated exceptional mechanical and electrical conductivity of MWNT/ bismaleimide (BMI) resin composites with high nanotube concentration (~60 wt.%). The tensile strength and Young’s modulus of the resultant nanocomposites reached 2,088 MPa and 169 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to the state-of-the-art unidirectional IM7 carbon fiber-reinforced composites for high-performance structural applications. The nanocomposites also demonstrate high electrical conductivity of 5,500 S/cm along the alignment direction. This unique integration of high mechanical performance and electrical conductance opens the door for the development of polymer composite conductors and eventually realizing multifunctional applications of structural composites, including electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding and lightning strike protection.
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