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Design of Electrically Conductive Structural Composites by Modulating Aligned CVD-Grown Carbon Nanotube Length on Glass Fibers

He, Delong, Fan, Benhui, Zhao, Hang, Lu, Xiaoxin, Yang, Minhao, Liu, Yu, Bai, Jinbo
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2017 v.9 no.3 pp. 2948-2958
adhesion, carbon nanotubes, electrical conductivity, glass fibers, glass transition temperature, interphase, microstructure, monitoring, storage modulus, vapors
Function-integration in glass fiber (GF) reinforced polymer composites is highly desired for developing lightweight structures and devices with improved performance and structural health monitoring. In this study, homogeneously aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) shell was in situ grafted on GF by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). It was demonstrated that the CNT shell thickness and weight fraction can be modulated by controlling the CVD conditions. The obtained hierarchical CNTs-GF/epoxy composites show highly improved electrical conductivity and thermo-mechanical and flexural properties. The composite through-plane and in-plane electrical conductivities increase from a quasi-isolator value to ∼3.5 and 100 S/m, respectively, when the weight fraction of CNTs grafted on GF fabric varies from 0% to 7%, respectively. Meanwhile, the composite storage modulus and flexural modulus and strength improve as high as 12%, 21%, and 26%, respectively, with 100% retention of the glass transition temperature. The reinforcing mechanisms are investigated by analyzing the composite microstructure and the interfacial adhesion and wetting properties of CNTs-GF hybrids. Moreover, the specific damage-related resistance variation characteristics could be employed to in situ monitor the structural health state of the composites. The outstanding electrical and structural properties of the CNTs-GF composites were due to the specific interfacial and interphase structures created by homogeneously grafting aligned CNTs on each GF of the fabric.