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ACS Nano. 2010 Dec 28;4(12):7415-20. doi: 10.1021/nn102529n. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Graphene nanoribbon composites.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York 12180, USA.

Abstract

It is well established that pristine multiwalled carbon nanotubes offer poor structural reinforcement in epoxy-based composites. There are several reasons for this which include reduced interfacial contact area since the outermost nanotube shields the internal tubes from the matrix, poor wetting and interfacial adhesion with the heavily cross-linked epoxy chains, and intertube slip within the concentric nanotube cylinders leading to a sword-in-sheath type failure. Here we demonstrate that unzipping such multiwalled carbon nanotubes into graphene nanoribbons results in a significant improvement in load transfer effectiveness. For example, at ∼0.3% weight fraction of nanofillers, the Young's modulus of the epoxy composite with graphene nanoribbons shows ∼30% increase compared to its multiwalled carbon nanotube counterpart. Similarly the ultimate tensile strength for graphene nanoribbons at ∼0.3% weight fraction showed ∼22% improvement compared to multiwalled carbon nanotubes at the same weight fraction of nanofillers in the composite. These results demonstrate that unzipping multiwalled carbon nanotubes into graphene nanoribbons can enable their utilization as high-performance additives for mechanical properties enhancement in composites that rival the properties of singlewalled carbon nanotube composites yet at an order of magnitude lower cost.

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