Materials Science

Nylon-Nanotube Fibers

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Science  11 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5715, pp. 1535
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5715.1535b

One potential application of carbon nanotubes is as a reinforcing agent for polymer fibers, and direct mixing has led to some significant improvements in tensile strength and Young's modulus. However, incomplete dispersion of the nanotubes, which tend to bundle together, and a lack of direct bonding to the polymer, which helps prevent pullout, have limited performance. Gao et al. have overcome some of these difficulties by using caprolactam as both solvent and monomer for incorporating single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) into a nylon-6 matrix. Nitric acid-treated SWNTs, which are terminated with carboxylic acid groups, are well solvated by amide-containing compounds such as caprolactam. After nylon-6 is formed by the ring-opening polymerization of caprolactam, the amino end of the nylon chain can couple to the SWNTs via an amide linkage. The tensile strength and Young's modulus of nylon-6 improved by about a factor of 2 to 3 for SWNT loadings of 0.5 to 1.5 weight %. — PDS

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/ja446193 (2005).

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