Carbon Nanotubes: Incorporation Within Multilayered Polyelectrolyte Films


Peter T. Lillehei Langley Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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Since their discovery in 1993, the synthesis, characterization, and manipulation of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) has received considerable attention. Single-walled carbon nanotubes are composed of a graphene sheet rolled into a seamless tube to produce a material with a diameter between 1 and 2 nm and lengths of up to tens of microns. As nanotubes are comprised of an extended π-system, they possess a unique combination of mechanical, electronic, and optical properties. Researchers have envisioned that by incorporating nanotubes within a range of materials, there is potential to produce technologically important breakthroughs such as ultrastrong but light structural materials and molecular-scale electronic devices.

This paper reviews recent reports on the incorporation of SWNTs within thin polymer films using the sequential adsorption of polyionic species.a

aFor reviews on the formation of thin films via the alternate adsorption of polyionic species, see Refs.

Using the ability to introduce acid sites on SWNTs, researchers have shown that oxidized SWNT bundles can act as polyionic species, allowing the formation of polyelectrolyte/SWNT composite thin films. In addition to minimizing a number of problems encountered with bulk processing techniques (vide infra), such “bottom-up” approaches to the formation of polymer/SWNT composites may permit the formation of film structures not readily achievable using bulk techniques. The preparation of polymer/SWNT composite thin films via the Langmuir–Blodgett (LB) technique will also be reviewed.