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Nanotechnology. 2009 Aug 12;20(32):325708. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/32/325708. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

A quantitative assessment of carbon nanotube dispersion in polymer matrices.

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Advanced Materials and Processing Branch, NASA Langley Research Center, 6 West Taylor Street, Hampton, VA 23681, USA.


Quantifying the nature and extent of the dispersion of nanomaterials in polymer matrices is the important first step in understanding the relationship between the nanoscale structure and the bulk scale functional performance of nanocomposites. We present here a methodology for using scanning electron microscope images of nanocomposites taken under high accelerating voltages to quantify four parameters that relate to the dispersion of the nanomaterial. This image analysis methodology is general and applicable to images from other microscopes as well. The analysis performed here was done on representative local areas of six samples to determine the effects of processing conditions, matrix chemistry, and carbon nanotube composition on the level of dispersion. Future work will involve expanding this analysis to rapidly cover larger areas and reducing the data in a manner that is similar to the approach of small angle scattering studies.

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