Temperature dependence of single-walled carbon nanotube migration in epoxy resin under DC electric field


Electric fields have been shown to induce orientation of CNTs in a polymer matrix along the direction of the applied field. When using a DC field, the CNTs also migrate between the two electrodes, resulting in a nonuniform CNT concentration across the composite sample and impacting the strengthening effect gained from the CNT alignment. In this study, we applied a DC electric field to a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT)/epoxy solution and investigated the migration kinetics at different temperatures (34.0–56.6 °C) by tracking the real-time changes of SWCNT concentration. The SWCNTs were found to migrate from the negative electrode to the positive electrode at a constant speed. The rate of CNT migration increases with temperature and follows an Arrhenius relationship. The activation energy (83.3–87.7 kJ/mole) was comparable to the activation energy for the viscous flow of the neat epoxy, indicating the viscosity of the polymer melt is the main factor affecting the migration. The migration process and the resulting CNT concentration gradient across the sample are a function of temperature and time enabling control of the spatial distribution of the CNTs and the selective enhancement of electrical, mechanical and thermal properties of CNT/polymer composites.

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The authors would like to thank the financial support from the University of Michigan and the program of China Scholarships Council (NO. 201706290165). We also acknowledge Prof. Larson (University of Michigan) for access to the rheometer. Special thanks go to Dr.Wesley Chapkin graduated from University of Michigan for the useful discussions he provided.

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Correspondence to Alan I. Taub.

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Zhang, D., Saukas, C., He, Y. et al. Temperature dependence of single-walled carbon nanotube migration in epoxy resin under DC electric field. J Mater Sci 55, 16220–16233 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10853-020-05150-z

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