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Keywords:

  • nanocomposites;
  • poly(propylene) (PP);
  • structure–property relations;
  • reinforcement;
  • conducting polymers

Abstract

The effect of multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) dimensions and surface modification on the morphology, mechanical reinforcement, and electrical properties of PP-based composites, prepared by melt mixing, has been studied. The MWCNTs of small (d < 10 nm) and large (d = 40–60 nm) diameters with various intrinsic aspect ratios (L/d) have been used as filler. Transmission electron microscopy and very cold neutrons (VCN) scattering showed that both as-received and surface modified small diameter MWCNT(1)s exhibit a strong tendency to bundle or cluster together in melt compared to both long MWCNT(3)s and short MWCNT(2)s large diameter nanotubes. The fractions of isolated nanotubes are higher and the mass-fractal dimensions are lower for thick MWCNT-based nanocomposites. The nanotubes of all types are heterogeneous nucleation sites for PP crystallization. The tensile and DMA testing results revealed that both long thick MWCNT(3)s with L/d ≈ 300 and thin MWCNT(1)s with highest intrinsic L/d > 1000 exhibit similar reinforcing effects, because drastically decreasing the effective aspect ratio (L/d)eff of the thin flexibly nanotubes within polymer matrix. The nanocomposites based on the long large diameter MWCNT(3)s demonstrated the lowest percolation threshold equal to 1.5 vol % loading, highest dielectric and electromagnetic waves shielding properties. It was concluded that the choice of optimal diameter and length of MWCNTs is right approach to the improvement in the dispersion state and straightness of multiwelled carbon nanotubes in polymer melt as well as to enhancement of their efficiency as reinforcing and conductive nanosized filler. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2010