National Physical Laboratory

Plasma treatment as a method for functionalising and improving dispersion of carbon nanotubes in epoxy resins.

Williams, J*, Broughton, W R, Koukoulas, T, Rahatekar, S S*
J. Mater. Sci., 2013, 48, (3), 1005-1013
NPL Doc. Ref:
PDB: 6586 | DDB: 5242
Document Type:
Periodical article

Note: An asterisk after an author's name indicates a non-NPL author.


This study reports on the results of plasma treated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the presence of oxygen and ammonia which can be scaled up for large quantities of nano materials. The plasma treatment has been shown to change the surface chemistry as well as the morphology of the carbon nanotubes. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis shows increases in oxygen and nitrogen groups on the oxygen and ammonia treated CNTs respectively. Titration of the enhanced oxygen plasma treated CNTs reveals an increased presence of carboxyl groups at 2.97 wt. %. Whilst bulk density decreases from 151 kg/m3 for untreated carbon nanotubes to 76 kg/m3 after the enhanced oxygen treatment. The plasma treated carbon nanotubes have been mixed in epoxy and have shown an improvement in dispersion, which was quantitatively evaluated using an optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique shown to be suitable for nanocomposites characterisation. This research has demonstrated that it is possible to functionalise large quantities of carbon nanotubes in a single process, and that this process improves the dispersion of the carbon nanotubes in epoxy.

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