Hierarchical multifunctional composites by conformally coating aligned carbon nanotube arrays with conducting polymer.

ACS applied materials & interfaces

PubMedID: 20356128

Vaddiraju S, Cebeci H, Gleason KK, Wardle BL. Hierarchical multifunctional composites by conformally coating aligned carbon nanotube arrays with conducting polymer. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2009;1(11):2565-72.
A novel method for the fabrication of carbon nanotube (CNT)-conducting polymer composites is demonstrated by conformally coating extremely high aspect ratio vertically aligned-CNT (A-CNT) arrays with conducting polymer via oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD). A mechanical densification technique is employed that allows the spacing of the A-CNTs to be controlled, yielding a range of inter-CNT distances between 20 and 70 nm. Using this morphology control, oCVD is shown to conformally coat 8-nm-diameter CNTs having array heights up to 1 mm (an aspect ratio of 10(5)) at all inter-CNT spacings. Three phase CNT-conducting polymer nanocomposites are then fabricated by introducing an insulating epoxy via capillary-driven wetting. CNT morphology is maintained during processing, allowing quantification of direction-dependent (nonisotropic) composite properties. Electrical conductivity occurs primarily along the CNT axial direction, such that the conformal conducting polymer has little effect on the activation energy required for charge conduction. In contrast, the conducting polymer coating enhanced the conductivity in the radial direction by lowering the activation energy required for the creation of mobile charge carriers, in agreement with variable-range-hopping models. The fabrication strategy introduced here can be used to create many multifunctional materials and devices (e.g., direction-tailorable hydrophobic and highly conducting materials), including a new four-phase advanced fiber composite architecture.