H. Cebici, R. Guzman de Villoria, A.J. Hart, B.L. Wardle. Composites Science and Technology 69:2649-2656, 2009. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2009.08.006]
Advanced composites, such as those used in aerospace applications, employ a high volume fraction of aligned stiff fibers embedded in high-performance polymers. Unlike advanced composites, polymer nanocomposites (PNCs) employ low volume fraction filler-like concepts with randomly-oriented and poorly controlled morphologies due to difficult issues such as dispersion and alignment of the nanostructures. Here, novel fabrication techniques yield controlled-morphology aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) composites with measured non-isotropic properties and trends consistent with standard composites theories. Modulus and electrical conductivity are maximal along the CNT axis, and are the highest reported in the literature due to the continuous aligned-CNTs and use of an unmodified aerospace-grade structural epoxy. Rule-of-mixtures predictions are brought into agreement with the measured moduli when CNT waviness is incorporated. Waviness yields a large (10×) reduction in modulus, and therefore control of CNT collimation is seen as the primary limiting factor in CNT reinforcement of composites for stiffness. Anisotropic electron transport (conductivity and current-carrying capacity) follows expected trends, with enhanced conductivity and Joule heating observed at high current densities.
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