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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 17;110(51):20426-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1312253110. Epub 2013 Dec 5.

Zipping, entanglement, and the elastic modulus of aligned single-walled carbon nanotube films.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.


Reliably routing heat to and from conversion materials is a daunting challenge for a variety of innovative energy technologies--from thermal solar to automotive waste heat recovery systems--whose efficiencies degrade due to massive thermomechanical stresses at interfaces. This problem may soon be addressed by adhesives based on vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, which promise the revolutionary combination of high through-plane thermal conductivity and vanishing in-plane mechanical stiffness. Here, we report the data for the in-plane modulus of aligned single-walled carbon nanotube films using a microfabricated resonator method. Molecular simulations and electron microscopy identify the nanoscale mechanisms responsible for this property. The zipping and unzipping of adjacent nanotubes and the degree of alignment and entanglement are shown to govern the spatially varying local modulus, thereby providing the route to engineered materials with outstanding combinations of mechanical and thermal properties.


energy conversion; nanostructured materials; thermal interface materials; thermoelectrics; van der Waals

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