Aligned single-wall carbon nanotube polymer composites using an electric field

Cheol Park, John Wilkinson, Sumanth Banda, Zoubeida Ounaies, Kristopher E. Wise, Godfrey Sauti, Peter T. Lillehei, Joycelyn S. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


While high shear alignment has been shown to improve the mechanical properties of single-wall carbon nanotube (SWNT)-polymer composites, this method does not allow for control over the electrical and dielectric properties of the composite and often results in degradation of these properties. Here, we report a novel method to actively align SWNTs in a polymer matrix, which permits control over the degree of alignment of the SWNTs without the side effects of shear alignment. In this process, SWNTs were aligned via AC field-induced dipolar interactions among the nanotubes in a liquid matrix followed by immobilization by photopolymerization under continued application of the electric field. Alignment of SWNTs was controlled as a function of magnitude, frequency, and application time of the applied electric field. The degree of SWNT alignment was assessed using optical microscopy and polarized Raman spectroscopy, and the morphology of the aligned nanocomposites was investigated by high-resolution scanning electron microscopy. The structure of the field induced aligned SWNTs was intrinsically different from that of shear aligned SWNTs. In the present work, SWNTs are not only aligned along the field, but also migrate laterally to form thick, aligned SWNT percolative columns between the electrodes. The actively aligned SWNTs amplify the electrical and dielectric properties of the composite. All of these properties of the aligned nanocomposites exhibited anisotropic characteristics, which were controllable by tuning the applied field parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1751-1762
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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