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Working Toward Nanotube CompositesOne of the most attractive applications of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) is found in the area of structural materials. Nanotubes have a unique combination of high strength, modulus, and elongation to failure, and therefore have potential to significantly enhance the mechanical properties of today's composites. This is especially attractive for the aerospace industry looking for any chance to save weight. This is why NASA has chosen to tackle this difficult application of SWNT. Nanotube properties differ significantly from that of conventional carbon fibers, and a whole new set of problems, including adhesion and dispersion in the adhesive polymer matrix, must be resolved in order to engineer superior composite materials. From recent work on a variety of applications it is obvious that the wide range of research in nanotubes will lead to advances in physics, chemistry, and engineering. However, the possibility of ultralightweight structures is what causes dreamers to really get excited. One of the important issues in composite engineering is aspect ratio of the fibers, since it affects load transfer in composites. Nanotube length was a gray area for years, since they are formed in bundles, making it impossible to monitor individual nanotube length. Even though bundles are observed to be tens and hundreds of microns long, they can be built of relatively short tubes weakly bound by Van der Waals forces. Nanotube length can be affected by subsequent purification and ultrasound processing, which has been necessary in order to disperse nanotubes and introduce them into a polymer matrix. Some calculations show that nanotubes with 10(exp 5) aspect ratio may be necessary to achieve good load transfer. We show here that nanotubes produced in our laser system are as much as tens of microns long and get cut into lengths of hundreds of nanometers during ultrasound processing. Nanotube length was measured by AFM on pristine nanotube specimens as well, as after sonication. In each case great care was taken to measure individual nanotubes, rather than bundles. Pristine nanotubes were collected on quartz substrates placed directly in the laser oven and exposed for 0.5 s. This results in an equal mix of bundles and individual nanotubes. Nanotube length measurements were limited practically by the lateral span of the AFM scanner, but nanotube length is certainly in excess of 20 micrometers.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Arepalli, Sivaram
(Lockheed Martin Corp. Houston, TX United States)
Nikolaev, Pavel
(Lockheed Martin Corp. Houston, TX United States)
Gorelik, Olga
(Lockheed Martin Corp. Houston, TX United States)
Hadjiev, Victor G.
(Houston Univ. TX United States)
Scott, Carl D.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX United States)
Files, Bradley S.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2001
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the Sixth Applied Diamond Conference/Second Frontier Carbon Technology Joint Conference (ADC/FCT 2001)
Subject Category
Composite Materials
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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