Ayewah, Daniel Osagie, Oyinkuro (2007-08). Characterization of surfactant dispersed single wall nanotube - polystyrene matrix nanocomposite. Master's Thesis.
Carbon nanotubes (CNT) are a new form of carbon with exceptional electrical and mechanical properties. This makes them attractive as inclusions in nanocomposite materials with the potential to provide improvements in electrical and mechanical properties and allows for the creation of a new range of multifunctional materials. In this study single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) were dispersed in polystyrene using a solution mixing method, with the aid of a surfactant. A good dispersion was achieved and the resulting nanocomposites were characterized for electrical conductivity and mechanical properties by 3 point flexural and fracture toughness tests. Results show a significant improvement in electrical properties with electrical percolation occurring between 0.1 and 0.2 wt%. A minor improvement was observed in the flexural modulus but the strength and fracture toughness values in the nanocomposites decreased relative to the neat material. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was performed to characterize the morphology and fracture surface of the specimens. The results of testing and microscopy show that the presence of the nanotubes has an adverse effect on the crazing mechanism in Polystyrene (PS) resulting in a deterioration of the mechanical properties that depend on this mechanism.