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Nanotechnology. 2008 Aug 6;19(31):315708. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/19/31/315708. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

A novel structure for carbon nanotube reinforced alumina composites with improved mechanical properties.

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  • 1Institute of Fluid Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8577, Japan. Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8579, Japan.


Engineering ceramics have high stiffness, excellent thermostability, and relatively low density, but their brittleness impedes their use as structural materials. Incorporating carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into a brittle ceramic might be expected to provide CNT/ceramic composites with both high toughness and high temperature stability. Until now, however, materials fabrication difficulties have limited research on CNT/ceramic composites. The mechanical failure of CNT/ceramic composites reported previously is primarily attributed to poor CNT-matrix connectivity and severe phase segregation. Here we show that a novel processing approach based on the precursor method can diminish the phase segregation of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), and render MWCNT/alumina composites highly homogeneous. The MWCNTs used in this study are modified with an acid treatment. Combined with a mechanical interlock induced by the chemically modified MWCNTs, this approach leads to improved mechanical properties. Mechanical measurements reveal that only 0.9 vol% acid-treated MWCNT addition results in 27% and 25% simultaneous increases in bending strength (689.6 ± 29.1 MPa) and fracture toughness (5.90 ± 0.27 MPa m(1/2)), respectively.

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