Polyacrylonitrile/carbon nanotube composite fibers: reinforcement efficiency and carbonization studies
Chae, Han Gi
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Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/carbon nanotube (CNT) composite fibers were made using various processing methods such as conventional solution spinning, gel spinning, and bi-component gel spinning. The detailed characterization exhibited that the smaller and longer CNT will reinforce polymer matrix mostly in tensile strength and modulus, respectively. Gel spinning combined with CNT also showed the promising potential of PAN/CNT composite fiber as precursor fiber of the next generation carbon fiber. High resolution transmission electron microscopy showed the highly ordered PAN crystal layer on the CNT, which attributed to the enhanced physical properties. The subsequent carbonization study revealed that carbonized PAN/CNT fibers have at least 50% higher tensile strength and modulus as compared to those of carbonized PAN fibers. Electrical conductivity of CNT containing carbon fiber was also 50% higher than that of carbonized PAN fiber. In order to have carbon fiber with high tensile strength, the smaller diameter precursor fiber is preferable. Bi-component gel spinning produced 1-2 µm precursor fiber, resulting in ~1 µm carbon fiber. The tensile strength of the carbonized bi-component fiber (islands fibers) is as high as 6 GPa with tensile modulus of ~500 GPa. Further processing optimization may lead to the next generation carbon fiber.