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Published October 2011 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Synthesis and Characterization of Carbon Nanotube–Polymer Multilayer Structures


We develop lightweight, multilayer materials composed of alternating layers of poly dimethyl siloxane (PDMS) polymer and vertically aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays, and characterize their mechanical response in compression. The CNT arrays used in the assembly are synthesized with graded mechanical properties along their thickness, and their use enables the creation of multilayer structures with low density (0.12–0.28 g/cm^3). We test the mechanical response of structures composed of different numbers of CNT layers partially embedded in PDMS polymer, under quasi-static and dynamic loading. The resulting materials exhibit a hierarchical, fibrous structure with unique mechanical properties: They can sustain large compressive deformations (~0.8 strain) with a nearly complete recovery and present strain localization in selected sections of the materials. Energy absorption, as determined by the hysteresis observed in stress–strain curves, is found to be at least 3 orders of magnitude larger than that of natural and synthetic cellular materials of comparable density. Conductive bucky paper is included within the polymer interlayers. This allows the measurement of resistance variation as a function of applied stress, showing strong correlation with the observed strain localization in compression.

Additional Information

© 2011 American Chemical Society. Published In Issue October 25, 2011; Article ASAP October 10, 2011; Just Accepted Manuscript September 25, 2011; Received: June 20, 2011; Accepted: September 23, 2011. We thank H. M. (Chinthaka) Mallikarachchi and S. Lacheteau for their contribution to the experiments. J.R.R. gratefully acknowledges support through a National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellowship through the Department of Defense. L.D.N. thanks INSTM for travel granting support in "Metamateriali" grant project. C.D. acknowledges support from the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies under contract W911NF-09-D-0001 with the Army research office.

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