Producing controlled grid patterns of nanotube arrays for strengthening polymer composites
To maximise the effect of carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforcement on a polymer thin film, while minimizing nanotube content, a controllable way of varying the volume fraction of CNTs within the composite is needed. Here we describe the fabrication of controllable CNT grid patterns on a silicon oxide substrate by Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). By varying the grid separations we can manipulate the amount of CNTs present on the substrates. These as-grown nanotube arrays can be easily incorporated into a free standing polymer thin film as demonstrated recently. Embedded nanotubes mechanically strengthen a polymer and also provide a network of conduction pathways through an insulating polymer matrix. Mechanical reinforcement, electrical and thermal conductivities of the composite material depend on the location and concentration of these conduction channels.Soft lithography patterning of the catalyst used during nanotube production allows for selective positioning of CNT arrays. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes were grown by the decomposition of acetylene in a CVD chamber.