The surface of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) was modified to introduce acidic groups in either covalent or van der Waals interaction bonding environments to establish cross-linking sites with a host polymer. Nanocomposites based on a polyurethane matrix (PU) containing chemically functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) have been shown to alter its mechanical performance depending on the nature of the surface functional groups on MWCNTs, which correlates to the type of bonding interaction of the surface group and also the dispersibility of MWCNTs and their influence on the domain structure of polyurethane. The stress at break for nanocomposites containing 0.25wt% of acid-oxidised MWCNTs (MWCNT-ox), bearing covalently attached carboxylic, lactone and phenolic groups, was twice that of the native PU and Young's Modulus for the nanocomposites increased by four times. Whereas when hemin, which contains carboxylic functionality, was immobilised to the surface of pure MWCNTs, the improvement in Young's Modulus was only around twice that of pure PU. Differences in the disaggregation of MWCNTs into PU were observed between the samples as well as variation of the native domain structure of PU. The results also infer that the purification of MWCNTs from acid-oxidative lattice fragments (fulvic acids) is vital prior to conducting surface chemistry and polymerisation in order to ensure maximum mechanical performance enhancement in their reinforcement of the host polymer.
- Carbon nanotubes
- Mechanical properties
- Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
- Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)