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Interactions between Carbon Nanotubes and Liquids: Imbibition and Wetting

A. Cuenat, M. Whitby, M. Cain, D. Mendels and N. Quirke
National Physical Laboratory, UK

cabon nanotubes, imbibition, wetting

Carbon nanotubes (CNT) have potential applications in nanofluidic devices and are already in use for composite reinforcement. Their interactions with fluids are critical in both those applications. Furthermore, the wetting dynamics of homogeneous and structured surfaces is critical in many engineering applications. We report on our progress to extend the current experimental measurements to times and lengths scale characterisitic of nanomaterials. The rapid imbibition of carbon nanotubes by decane and similar fluids is investigated to confirm recent theoretical results obtained using MD simulations. The wetting dynamics of carbon nanotubes and larger carbon fibers (~200 nm) is studied as a function of the property of the liquid. We address the main experimental challenges both in term of time resolution and force sensitivity necessary for reliable experiment at these scales. Our main approach is based on the preparation of open CNT and attachment to atomic force cantilever. The manipulation, preparation and characterization of such probes will be presented in details. The cantilever interaction with a fluid interface is characterized using a modified SPM system, whereas the CNT tip is immerged into the liquid while simultaneously measuring the force. Pull-out type experiment are also conducted to measure the adhesion forces between the CNT wall and the liquid.

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