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New route to manufacture high performance carbon nanotubes nanocomposites based on pre-dispersed concentrates generated by in-situ polymerization

M. Claes, D. Bonduel, S. Pegel, M. Alexandre, P. Poetschke, P. Dubois and F. Luizi
Nanocyl SA, BE

Keywords:
carbon nanotube, polymerization, nanocomposite

Abstract:
We describe here an original method which relies upon the in situ polymerization of olefin catalyzed by a highly active metallocene complex physicochemically anchored onto the carbon nanotube surface. As a result, carbon nanotubes are homogeneously coated by the in situ grown polyolefin chains, finally leading to the break-up of the nanotube bundles. A mechanism is proposed and evidences of the coating are established in this paper.
The resulting polymer-coated MWNTs have been used as masterbatches that have been dispersed in various polymers. The improvement in MWNTs dispersion arising from the coating has allowed increasing of the mechanical properties (good compromise between stiffness and toughness) and the electrical properties (lower percolation threshold and higher conductivity) with comparable success in commodity (HDPE, PP), engineering (PC, PA) and high performance (PEEK) plastics.
This system, now commercially available, marks an evolution in the field of the carbon nanotube nanocomposites since it improves drastically the dispersion and the properties (same or better properties at lower loading) and generates masterbatches of never obtained high loading (till 60 % of CNTs) totally compatible with the usual processing methods and much easier to handle (it is not a fluffy carbon powder anymore).

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