Dynamics of carbon nanotube alignment by electric fields.

Research paper by A I AI Oliva-Avilés, F F Avilés, V V Sosa, A I AI Oliva, F F Gamboa

Indexed on: 26 Oct '12Published on: 26 Oct '12Published in: Nanotechnology


The dynamics of multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) alignment inside viscous media using electric fields is investigated. Electrical current measurements were performed in situ during the application of an electric field to liquid solutions of deionized water or dissolved polymer containing MWCNTs. The variation of electrical current over time was associated to the dynamics of the MWCNT network formation. The influence of the electric field magnitude and frequency on the MWCNT network formation was studied. MWCNT migration towards the negative electrode was observed when a direct current electric field was applied, whereas formation of an aligned MWCNT network was achieved for an alternating current electric field. The increase of the electric field frequency promotes a faster formation of an aligned MWCNT network and thinner MWCNT bundles. A higher viscosity of the liquid medium yields slower MWCNT alignment evidenced by a slower change of electrical current through the viscous system. An analytical model based on the dielectrophoresis-induced torque, which considers the viscosity of the medium, is also proposed to explain the dynamics of MWCNT alignment. Furthermore, aligned MWCNT/polysulfone solid composites were fabricated and electrically characterized. The solid composites presented anisotropic electrical conductivity, which was more evident for low MWCNT concentrations (0.1-0.2 wt%).