Low-cost carbon nanotube aerogels with varying and controllable density

  • Yang Shen
  • Ai Du
  • Xue-Ling Wu
  • Xiao-Guang Li
  • Jun Shen
  • Bin ZhouEmail author
Original Paper: Nano- and macroporous materials (aerogels, xerogels, cryogels, etc.)


Carbon nanotube (CNT) aerogels with varying and controllable density were fabricated from low-cost raw materials via simple steps based on sol–gel technique. CNT raw powders were dispersed in water with sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate as surfactant under ultrasonic wave, which then coagulated into gel at room temperature. The gels were thoroughly washed by using hot (90 °C) polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) aqueous solution (mass ratio = 1 %) and then centrifuged. Finally, after solvent exchange, the gels were converted into aerogels by using supercritical CO2 fluid drying process. Free-standing and monolithic CNT aerogels with varying and controllable density (~0.06–0.35 g/cm3), elastic modulus (~0.17–0.87 MPa), electric conductivity (~0.56–4.55 S/m), specific surface area (SSA, ~100 m2/g), and average pore diameter (10–20 nm) were obtained. The density of CNT aerogels was correlated with the relative intensity ratio of the D band to the G band (I D/I G) in Raman spectrum as well, which indicated the degree of order. The residual PVA molecules intertwined CNTs, which pulled the SSA down and increased the degree of disorder of CNT aerogel in some extent. The low-cost CNT aerogels with varying and controllable density are meaningful in providing a competitive candidate for potential target materials in inertial confinement fusion experiments and laser-driven quasi-isentropic compression experiments.

Graphical Abstract

Free-standing and monolithic carbon nanotube (CNT) aerogels with varying and controllable density were fabricated from low-cost raw materials via simple steps based on sol–gel technique, which mainly includes dispersion, centrifugation, and drying. CNT aerogels exhibited varying and controllable density (~0.06–0.35 g/cm3), elastic modulus (~0.17–0.87 MPa), electric conductivity (~0.56 to 4.55 S/m), specific surface area (SSA, ~100 m2/g), average pore diameter (10–20 nm), and cross-linked micrograph. In addition, the Raman spectrum of CNT aerogels was given, and the correlations between density and I D/I G were discussed. The low-cost CNT aerogels with varying and controllable density are meaningful in providing a competitive candidate for potential target materials in inertial confinement fusion experiments and laser-driven quasi-isentropic compression experiments.


CNT Aerogel Controllable density Sol–gel PVA Monolithic 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (5117216, 51102184 and 11404243), National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (2013AA031801), Science and Technology Innovation Fund of Shanghai Aerospace, China (SAST201321 and SAST201469). Thanks to Li-Ping Zou and Peng Yan for their kind help in measurement and beneficial discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yang Shen
    • 1
  • Ai Du
    • 1
  • Xue-Ling Wu
    • 1
  • Xiao-Guang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jun Shen
    • 1
  • Bin Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Special Artificial Microstructure Materials and Technology, Pohl Institute of Solid State PhysicsTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Applied Physics, School of ScienceNorthwestern Polytechnical UniversityXi’anChina

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