Cellulose–Assisted Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes : From Colloids to Composites

University dissertation from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: It is a challenge to disperse nanoparticles to obtain a nanostructured composite. This thesis aims at providing a new route to fabricate carbon nanotube (CNT) composites and suggests mechanisms for nanocellulose–CNT interactions. This route is based on unmodified CNT dispersed in water with the help of nanocellulose. Chemical functionalization of the CNTs and the addition of surfactants are avoided. Thus, the mechanical and electrical properties of such nanotube composites can be improved.Cellulose derivatives can disperse and stabilize carbon nanotubes in water. Nanocellulose particles, such as cellulose nanofibrils (CNF), are a new form of cellulose derivatives that are able to disperse and stabilize untreated carbon nanotubes in water. The utilization of the hybrid CNF–CNT dispersions are shown to lead to strong nanostructured composites with high nanotube content and conductivity. The mechanism behind the dispersive action of nanocellulose for nanotubes is explored and studied in detail. The dispersive ability of the nanocellulose leads to improved properties of CNF–CNT composites.Apart from studies of structure and properties of composite fibers and films, two different functional materials are studied in detail. One is to form conductive patterns on cellulose nanopaper for the stable function of printed electronics in various environmental conditions and during handling. The second is to use a water-soluble cellulosic polymer–nanotube dispersion to fabricate superelastic aerogels without any chemical crosslinking or the addition of another component. This makes the aerogels easily recyclable (redispersible in water) and opens a new route for recyclable superelastic CNT composite aerogels.

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