Interfacial chemistry using a bifunctional coupling agent for enhanced electrical properties of carbon nanotube based composites
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A bifunctional coupling agent (BCA) containing one oxazoline and one benzoxazinone group was applied to promote a reaction between polyamide 12 (PA12) and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) during melt mixing. With this modification, the MWCNT content needed for the electrical percolation was significantly reduced by more than a factor of three. For amino functionalized MWCNT-PA12 composites adding 1 wt.% BCA electrical percolation was reached at only 0.37 wt.% MWCNTs compared to 1.0 wt.% without BCA. With the help of a model reaction, the covalent attachment of the BCA to the MWCNTs could be shown by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and via fluorescence spectroscopy. Model compounds were applied containing either only the oxazoline or the benzoxazinone group to show that the better electrical properties in the PA12-MWCNT composites were a result of a covalent bond between the polymer and the nanotube which only takes place when the BCA was used. In addition, significantly higher electrical conductivity values were obtained by the addition of BCA as well with amino functionalized as with nonmodified commercial MWCNTs. This surprising result was attributed to the significant hydroxy group content on the surface of those commercial MWCNTs. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.