A Novel Approach to Impregnating Structural Resin into Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Assemblies to Yield Ultrahigh-Loaded Polymer Nanocomposites

Period of Performance: 07/03/2008 - 05/07/2009

$70K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive Suite D
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Texas at Dallas
800 West Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080
Institution POC

Abstract

The primary objective of this program is the investigation of new approaches to achieve well-dispersed ultrahigh loading of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in structural resins for advanced composites. Well-dispersed means CNTs that are optimally dispersed for achieving desired properties like strength, modulus, toughness, and thermal conductivity, rather than uniformly dispersed CNTs. Phase I will include the development of a scientific understanding of the fundamental impediments to well-dispersed ultrahigh CNT-based nanocomposites, including the development and demonstration of techniques for the characterization of interfacial bonding between CNTs and structural resins, establishment of relevant analytical models, and correlation of the degree of loading and nature of dispersion with mechanical performance for small nanocomposite test coupons. Our efforts will benchmark previous developments at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) that have already met CNT loading goals in polymer matrices of 10 percent by weight, and build upon these efforts through the development of novel approaches for the polymer impregnation of solid-state CNT textile precursors. This will include the evaluation of several key CNT aspects (purification, dispersion, functionalization, and processing) to establish a maximum loading capability of well-dispersed CNTs that display excellent CNT-matrix wetting. In Phase II, the most promising approaches will be used to fabricate large nanocomposite panels with various CNT loading ratio up to the maximum possible value for mechanical characterization. Detailed cost analyses will be prepared and methods proposed for lowering the cost and expansion of production capabilities anticipated to transition the technologies developed herein into a scalable demonstration in Phase III.