Polymer-single wall carbon nanotube composites for potential spacecraft applications

Cheol Park, Zoubeida Ounaies, Kent A. Watson, Kristin Pawlowski, Sharon E. Lowther, John W. Connell, Emilie J. Siochi, Joycelyn S. Harrison, Terry L. St. Clair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Polymer-single wall carbon nanotube (SWNT) composite films were prepared and characterized as part of an effort to develop polymeric materials with improved combinations of properties for potential use on future spacecraft. Next generation spacecraft will require ultra-lightweight materials that possess specific and unique combinations of properties such as radiation and atomic oxygen resistance, low solar absorptivity, high thermal emissitivity, electrical conductivity, tear resistance, ability to be folded and seamed, and good mechanical properties. The objective of this work is to incorporate sufficient electrical conductivity into space durable polyimides to mitigate static charge build-up. The challenge is to obtain this level of conductivity (10-8 S/cm) without degrading other properties of importance, particularly optical transparency. Several different approaches were attempted to fully disperse the SWNTs into the polymer matrix. These included high shear mixing, sonication, and synthesizing the polymers in the presence of pre-dispersed SWNTs. Acceptable levels of conductivity were obtained at loading levels less than one tenth weight percent SWNT without significantly sacrificing optical properties. Characterization of the nanocomposite films and the effect of SWNT concentration and dispersion on the conductivity, solar absorptivity, thermal emissivity, mechanical and thermal properties were discussed. Fibers and non-woven porous mats of SWNT reinforced polymer nanocomposite were produced using electrospinning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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