Carbon nanotube reinforced polyacrylonitrile and poly(etherketone) fibers
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The graphitic nature, continuous structure, and high mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) make them good candidate for reinforcing polymer fiber. The different types of CNTs including single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), few-wall carbon nanotubes (FWNTs), and multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs), and carbon nanofibers (CNFs) differ in terms of their diameter and number of graphitic walls. The desire has been to increase the concentration of CNTs as much as possible to make next generation multi-functional materials. The work in this thesis is mainly focused on MWNT and CNF reinforced polyacrylonitrile (PAN) composite fibers, and SWNT, FWNT, and MWNT reinforced poly(etherketone) (PEK) composite fibers. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report the spinning of 20% MWNT or 30% CNF reinforced polymer fiber spun using conventional fiber spinning. Also, this is the first study to report the PEK/CNT composite fibers. The fibers were characterized for their thermal, tensile, mechanical, and dynamic mechanical properties. The fiber structure and morphology was studied using WAXD and SEM. The effect of two-stage heat drawing, sonication time for CNF dispersion, fiber drying temperature, and molecular weight of PAN was also studied. Other challenges associated with processing high concentrations of solutions for making composite fibers have been identified and reported. The effect of CNT diameter and concentration on fiber spinnability and electrical conductivity of composite fiber have also been studied. This work suggests that CNT diameter controls the maximum possible concentration of CNTs in a composite fiber. The results show that by properly choosing the type of CNT, length of CNTs, dispersion of CNTs, fiber spinning method, fiber draw ratio, and type of polymer, one can get electrically conducting fibers with wide range of conductivities for different applications. The PEK based control and composite fibers possess high thermal stability with almost no weight loss up to 500 degree C and negligible thermal shrinkage up to 200 degree C. The PEK based fibers showed high toughness which surpassed many of the high-performance fibers like Kevlar(R) and Zylon(R). The 10% FWNT containing fiber is unique in terms of high electrical conductivity and high toughness. The CNT based fibers may be used as structural material, fire-barrier/protection textile, electrode for electrochemical capacitor or fuel cells, and as a template for directional growth of tissues.