Polyacrylonitrile / carbon nanotube composite fibers: effect of various processing parameters on fiber structure and properties
Choi, Young Ho
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This study elucidates the effect of various processing parameters on polyacrylonitrile (PAN) /carbon nanotube (CNT) composite fiber structure and properties. Interaction between PAN and MWNT enabled the gel-spun PAN/MWNT composite fiber to be drawn to a higher draw ratio, than the control PAN fiber, resulting in the composite fiber tensile strength value as high as 1.3 GPa. PAN/MWNT composite fibers were stabilized and carbonized, and the resulting fibers have been characterized for their structure and properties. The effect of precursor fiber shelf-time on the mechanical properties of the gel-spun PAN/MWNT composite fibers is also reported. A rheological study of PAN-co-MAA/few wall nanotube (FWNT) composite solution has been conducted. At low shear rates, the network of FWNTs contributes to elastic response, resulting in higher viscosity and storage modulus for the composite solution as compared to the control solution. On the other hand, at high shear rates, the network of FWNTs can be broken, resulting in lower viscosity for the composite solution than that for the control solution. Larger PAN crystal size (~16.2 nm) and enhanced mechanical properties are observed when the fiber was drawn at room temperature (cold-drawing) prior to being drawn at elevated temperature (~ 165 °C; hot-drawing). Azimuthal scan of wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) and Raman G-band intensities were used for the evaluation of Herman's orientation factor for PAN crystal (fPAN) and FWNT (fFWNT), respectively. Significantly higher nanotube orientation was observed than PAN orientation at an early stage of fiber processing (i.e during spinning, cold-drawing). Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) revealed that PAN-co-MAA fiber can be converted into cyclic structure at milder conditions than those for PAN. Continuous in-line stabilization, carbonization, and characterization of the resulting carbon fibers were carried out. Rheological and fiber spinning studies have also been carried out on PAN-co-MAA/VGCNF (vapor grown carbon nano fiber). The diameter of PAN-co-MAA/VGCNF composite fiber is smaller than that of the PAN-co-MAA control fiber with same draw ratio due to the suppressed die-swell in the presence of VGCNF. The mechanical properties of PAN-co-MAA control and PAN-co-MAA/VGCNF composite fibers were characterized. Crystalline structure and morphology of the solution-spun PAN-co-MAA/VGCNF fibers are characterized using WAXD and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), respectively. The volume fraction of PAN-CNT interphase in PAN matrix has been calculated to illustrate the impact of CNTs on structural change in PAN matrix, when ordered PAN molecules are developed in the vicinity of CNTs during fiber processing. The effect of PAN-CNT interphase thickness, CNT diameter, and mass density of CNT on volume fraction of PAN-CNT interphase has been explored.