While ultrasonication is universally employed for dispersion and distribution of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in a solvent or polymer solution, the current work focuses on the underlying mechanisms of CNT demixing and CNT damage that can occur during processing. Here, multi-walled CNTs were dispersed in a polycaprolactone polymer matrix using an established solution processing technique. Electrical, rheological, and mechanical characterization results suggest that once nanocomposite property enhancements reach an optimal level, further sonication leads to a decrease in the corresponding properties due to a combination of CNT damage and demixing mechanisms. Evidence of CNT damage from transmission electron microscopy, poor CNT distribution from optical image analysis and shear-induced crystallization results, and reagglomeration observed from ultraviolet–visible results, taken together, suggest that mechanisms of demixing and damage of the CNTs coexist for excessive sonication times.
- mechanical properties
- structure–property relationships
- synthesis and processing techniques
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry