Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are the strongest one-dimensional nanomaterials, and can be assembled into light-weight, high-strength,and multifunctional fibers which are promising for a wide variety of practical applications.
Recently, base on their important achievements on controllable growth of spinnable CNT arrays, the Functional Nano-Carbon Materials Group by Prof. Qingwen Li at Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics (SINANO) have studied both experimentally and theoretically the spinning technique and enhancement mechanism of CNT fibers. This group has been able to stably synthesize CNT fibers with desired diameter of 3~20 μm and specific strength of 2.8 N/tex, stronger than traditional carbon fibers.
The group has also found that CNT fibers are much more flexible and easy to be functionalized than carbon fibers. By coating metal nanoparticles, the mechanically robust CNT fibers can also have metal-like electrical conductivities. They can also be used to synthesize high-performance composite materials and electrically actuated composite films with switchable transparency. The group has applied for 5 Chinese patents, published academic papers on ACS Nano, Small, Applied Physics Letters, and Carbon, and been invited to contribute a chapter in a forthcoming book “Carbon Nanotubes and Their Applications” by Pan Stanford Publishing.
These studies were supported by Hundred Talent Program and Knowledge Innovation Program (KJCX2.YW.M12) by Chinese Academy of Sciences, International Collaboration Project (2009DFB50150) by Ministry of Science and Technology, Technology Support Program (BE2008068) of Jiangsu Province, National Natural Science Foundation of China (10972152), and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (20090461143, 20100471394) .
Left: Spinnging of CNT fibers. Right: Enhanced mechanical properties by heat treatment.