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ACS Nano. 2013 Apr 23;7(4):3434-46. doi: 10.1021/nn400346r. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Bio-inspired carbon nanotube-polymer composite yarns with hydrogen bond-mediated lateral interactions.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3111, United States.


Polymer composite yarns containing a high loading of double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWNTs) have been developed in which the inherent acrylate-based organic coating on the surface of the DWNT bundles interacts strongly with poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) through an extensive hydrogen-bond network. This design takes advantage of a toughening mechanism seen in spider silk and collagen, which contain an abundance of hydrogen bonds that can break and reform, allowing for large deformation while maintaining structural stability. Similar to that observed in natural materials, unfolding of the polymeric matrix at large deformations increases ductility without sacrificing stiffness. As the PVA content in the composite increases, the stiffness and energy to failure of the composite also increases up to an optimal point, beyond which mechanical performance in tension decreases. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations confirm this trend, showing the dominance of nonproductive hydrogen bonding between PVA molecules at high PVA contents, which lubricates the interface between DWNTs.

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