Highly Oriented Direct-Spun Carbon Nanotube Textiles Aligned by In Situ Radio-Frequency Fields.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) individually exhibit exceptional physical properties, surpassing state-of-the-art bulk materials, but are used commercially primarily as additives rather than as a standalone macroscopic product. This limited use of bulk CNT materials results from the inability to harness the superb nanoscale properties of individual CNTs into macroscopic materials. CNT alignment within a textile has been proven as a critical contributor to narrow this gap. Here, we report the development of an altered direct CNT spinning method based on the floating catalyst chemical vapor deposition process, which directly interacts with the self-assembly of the CNT bundles in the gas phase. The setup is designed to apply an AC electric field to continuously align the CNTs in situ during the formation of CNT bundles and subsequent aerogel. A mesoscale CNT model developed to simulate the alignment process has shed light on the need to employ AC rather than DC fields based on a CNT stiffening effect (z-pinch) induced by a Lorentz force. The AC-aligned synthesis enables a means to control CNT bundle diameters, which broadened from 16 to 25 nm. The resulting bulk CNT textiles demonstrated an increase in the specific electrical and tensile properties (up to 90 and 460%, respectively) without modifying the quantity or quality of the CNTs, as verified by thermogravimetric analysis and Raman spectroscopy, respectively. The enhanced properties were correlated to the degree of CNT alignment within the textile as quantified by small-angle X-ray scattering and scanning electron microscopy image analysis. Clear alignment (orientational order parameter = 0.5) was achieved relative to the pristine material (orientational order parameter = 0.19) at applied field intensities in the range of 0.5-1 kV cm-1 at a frequency of 13.56 MHz.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015552/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (2280508)