- Nano Express
- Open Access
Synthesis and characterization of HDPE/N-MWNT nanocomposite films
© Chouit et al.; licensee Springer. 2014
- Received: 30 January 2014
- Accepted: 31 March 2014
- Published: 9 June 2014
In this work, a series of nitrogen-doped multi-walled carbon nanotubes (N-MWCNTs) with several weight percentages (0.1, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.0 wt.%) were synthesized by catalytic chemical vapor deposition (CCVD) technique. The N-MWCNTs were first characterized and then dispersed in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) polymer matrix to form a nanocomposite. The HDPE/N-MWCNT nanocomposite films were prepared by melt mixing and hot pressing; a good dispersion in the matrix and a good N-MWCNT-polymer interfacial adhesion have been verified by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Raman spectroscopy measurements have been performed on prepared samples to confirm the presence and nature of N-MWNTs in HDPE matrix. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis demonstrated that the crystalline structure of HDPE matrix was not affected by the incorporation of the N-MWNTs.
- Carbon nanotube
- High-density polyethylene
- Raman spectroscopy
The carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted a great attention in recent years in the field of nanocomposite materials as reinforcing fillers because of their excellent mechanical and thermal properties [1, 2]. They possess an extremely high elastic modulus comparable to that of diamond [3, 4]. In addition, they exhibit electrical conductivity as high as 105 to 107 S/m  and can transform an insulating polymer into a conducting composite at a very low loading due to their extremely high aspect ratio. The CNT/polymer nanocomposite is one of the most promising fields for CNT applications, which generally exhibits excellent properties that differ substantially from those of pristine polymer matrix. A good dispersion of CNTs in polymer and their strong interfacial adhesion or coupling are the two key issues to ensure success of fabricating CNT/polymer nanocomposite with excellent properties [6, 7]. To that end, CNT functionalization is necessary before compounding with polymers. Three general approaches have been adopted in attempts to modify the surface of CNTs to promote the interfacial interactions: chemical, electrochemical, and plasma treatments. For example, Velasco-Santos et al.  placed different organofunctional groups on MWCNTs using an oxidation and silanization process. Bubert et al.  modified the surface of CNTs by using low-pressure oxygen plasma treatment. They detected hydroxide, carbonyl, and carboxyl functionality on the surface layers of the CNTs by using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).
Polyethylene (PE) is one of the most widely used thermoplastic. Among all PE types, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a commonly used thermoplastic with high degree of crystalline structure along with higher tensile strength [10–12]. Due to its low cost and processing energy consumption, HDPE resin is ideal for many applications such as orthopedic implants and distribution pipes . Moreover, HDPE can effectively resist corrosions including moisture, acids/alkalis, and most of the chemical solvents at room temperature.
High-power ultrasonic mixers , surfactants, solution mixing , and in situ polymerization have been used to produce CNT/polymer composites. These techniques appear to be environmentally contentious and may not be commercially viable. The melt mixing technique reported here is a simple and economical approach since the nanofillers are added directly to the polymer melt. However, the challenge in melt mixing is to achieve a good dispersion of the nanofillers through shear forces as well as a strong coupling between nanofillers and the matrix .
It has been shown that CNTs can alter the crystallization kinetics of semi-crystalline polymers [16, 17]. Sandler et al.  have melt-blended polyamide-12 with MWCNTs and carbon fibers using a twin-screw micro-extruder, and then fibers were produced from the prepared blends. They highlighted that both the intrinsic crystalline quality of the nanocomposite and the orientation of the embedded CNTs are the major factors controlling the reinforcing capability of CNTs.
We report in this paper on the preparation of nitrogen-doped multi-walled carbon nanotube (N-MWNT)/high-density polyethylene (HDPE) composites using melt blending. The presence of N-MWNTs in HDPE and morphology of the composites were investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Raman spectroscopy techniques. The crystallization of the nanocomposites is subsequently discussed using X-ray diffraction combined with Raman analysis.
The main materials used in this study are N-MWNTs (> 97% purity) with an outer mean diameter around 40 nm and a length over 10 μm. These nanotubes were synthesized by catalytic chemical vapor deposition (CCVD) technique using a mixture of C2H6/Ar/NH3 and 20 wt.% iron catalyst supported by alumina powder. The polymer matrix used is HDPE with trade name TR144, supplied by Sonatrach Company CP2K (Skikda, Algeria). The melt index of HDPE pellets is 0.30 with a density of 0.942 to 0.947 g/cm3.
N-MWNTs/HDPE were prepared via the melt-compounding method using a twin-screw mixer (Brabender, Duisburg, Germany), the processing temperature was kept at 167°C, and the screw speed amounted to 100 rpm for 10 min. The weight fractions of N-MWNT filler were fixed at 0.1, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.0 wt.%. The composite was then hot-pressed at 177°C, under a pressure of 100 bars for 5 min, in order to obtain films using 50 × 70 × 0.5 mm3 mold dimensions. In addition, a reference sample of bare HDPE was prepared in a very similar way.
The morphology of the N-MWNTs was examined by SEM on a JEOL 6700-FEG microscope (Akishima, Tokyo, Japan). High-magnification transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) observations were carried out using a JEOL JEM-2010 F under an accelerated voltage of 200 kV with a point-to-point resolution of 0.23 nm. The thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was performed on a Q5000 apparatus (TA Instruments, New Castle, DE, USA) where the combustion ran in air atmosphere at a flow rate of 20 ml/ min, up to 1,000°C at 10°C/ min. Raman spectroscopy was carried out on a micro-Raman Renishaw spectrometer Ramascope 2000 (Gloucestershire, UK), with a spot size of 1 μm2, a resolution of 1 cm-1, and a He-Ne laser beam operating at an excitation wavelength of 632.8 nm. X-ray diffraction measurements have been performed by PANalytical system (Almelo, The Netherlands; CuKα as a radiation source with λ = 1.0425 Ǻ, 2θ from 10° to 60°).
Analysis of carbon nanotubes
Characterization of nanocomposites (HDPE/N-MWNTs)
On the other hand, the larger intensity reflections are the bands resulting from the HDPE matrix as reported in the literature . The band at 1,080 cm-1 is used to characterize the level of amorphous phase in HDPE. Indeed, Raman spectroscopy is one of the most powerful tools to characterize the crystallinity of HDPE , and this is made through the intensity measurement between 1,400 and 1,460 cm-1. Those bands are characteristics of the methylene bending vibrations. In particular, the band in the 1,418 cm-1 region is typically assigned to that of the orthorhombic crystalline phase in polyethylene [22–24].
A melt processing method has been used to prepare HDPE/N-MWNT nanocomposites with different filler loading percentages between 0.1, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.0 wt.%. The CNTs were dispersed into the host HDPE matrix by shearing action only of a pair of cylinder screws and then hot-pressed. HRTEM observations indicate that the N-MWNT product exhibits a bamboo shape with 97% purity and a high selectivity. The presence of N-MWNT in polymer matrix HDPE is clearly observed even at low loadings of N-MWNTs. The fraction of the crystalline phase was determined from the normalized integrated intensity of the 1,418 cm-1 Raman band, which represents the orthorhombic crystalline phase in polyethylene. The XRD analysis demonstrated that the crystalline structure of HDPE matrix was not affected by the incorporation of the N-MWNTs.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Francisco C. Robles Hernandez at the University of Houston College of Technology for taking the HRSEM pictures of the HDPE/MWCNT composites.
- Iijima S: Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon. Nature 1991, 354: 56–58. 10.1038/354056a0View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Tans SJ, Devoret MH, Dai HJ, Thess A, Smalley RE, Geerligs LJ, Dekker C: Individual single-wall carbon nanotubes as quantum wires. Nature 1997, 386: 474. 10.1038/386474a0View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Robertson J: Realistic applications of CNTs. Mater Today 2004, 7: 46–52. 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00448-1View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Guadagno L, Vertuccio L, Sorrentino A, Raimondo M, Naddeo C, Vittoria V, Iannuzzo G, Calvi E, Russo S: Mechanical and barrier properties of epoxy resin filled with multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Carbon 2009, 47: 2419–2430. 10.1016/j.carbon.2009.04.035View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Thostenson E, Ren Z, Chou TW: Advances in the science and technology of carbon nanotubes and their composites. A review. Compos Sci Technol 2001, 61: 1899–1912. 10.1016/S0266-3538(01)00094-XView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Hwang GL, Shieh YT, Hwang KC: Efficient load transfer to polymer grafted multi walled carbon nanotubes in polymer composites. Adv Funct Mater 2004, 14: 487. 10.1002/adfm.200305382View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Schonhals A, Goering H, Costa FR, Wagenknecht U, Heinrich G: Dielectric properties of nanocomposites based on polyethylene and layered double hydroxide. Macromolecules 2009, 42(12):4165–4174. 10.1021/ma900077wView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Velasco-Santos C, Martı´nez-Herna´ndez AL, Lozada-Cassou M, Alvarez-Castillo A, Castanõ VM: Chemical functionalization of carbon nanotubes through an organosilane. Nanotechnology 2002, 13: 495–498. 10.1088/0957-4484/13/4/311View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Bubert H, Haiber S, Brandl W, Marginean G, Heintze M, Bru¨ser V: Characterization of the uppermost layer of plasma-treated carbon nanotubes. Diamond Relat Mater 2003, 12: 811–811. 10.1016/S0925-9635(02)00353-9View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Grigoriadou I, Paraskevopoulos K, Chrissafis K, Pavlidou E, Stamkopoulos TG, Bikiaris D: Effect of different nanoparticles on HDPE UV stability. Polym Degrad Stab 2011, 96: 151–163. 10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2010.10.001View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Jeon K, Lumata L, Tokumoto T, Steven E, Brooks J, Alamo RG: Low electrical conductivity threshold and crystalline morphology of single-walled carbon nanotubes – high density polyethylene nanocomposites characterized by SEM, Raman spectroscopy and AFM. Polymer 2007, 48(16):4751–4764. 10.1016/j.polymer.2007.05.078View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Kim J, Kwak S, Hong SM, Lee JR, Takahara A, Seo Y: Nonisothermal crystallization behaviors of nanocomposites prepared by in situ polymerization of high-density polyethylene on multiwalled carbon nanotubes. Macromolecules 2010, 43: 10545–10553. 10.1021/ma102036hView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Bin Y, Kitanaka M, Zhu D, Matsuo M: Development of highly oriented polyethylene filled with aligned carbon nanotubes by gelation/crystallization from solutions. Macromolecules 2003, 36: 6213–6219. 10.1021/ma0301956View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Zou Y, Feng Y, Wang L, Liu X: Processing and properties of MWNT/HDPE composites. Carbon 2004, 42: 271–277. 10.1016/j.carbon.2003.10.028View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Andrews R, Jacques D, Minot M, Rantell T: Fabrication of carbon multiwall nanotube/polymer composites by shear mixing. Macromol Mater Eng 2002, 287: 395–403. 10.1002/1439-2054(20020601)287:6<395::AID-MAME395>3.0.CO;2-SView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Bhattacharyya AR, Sreekumar TV, Liu T, Kumar S, Ericson LM, Hauge H, Smalley RE: Crystallization and orientation studies in polypropylene/single wall carbon nanotube composite. Polymer 2003, 44: 2373–2377. 10.1016/S0032-3861(03)00073-9View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Assouline E, Lustiger A, Barber AH, Cooper CA, Klein E, Wachtel E, Wagner HD: Nucleation ability of multiwall carbon nanotubes in polypropylene composites. J Polym Sci B: Polym Phys 2003, 41: 520–527.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Sandler JWK, Pegel S, Cadek M, Gojny F, van Es M, Lohmar J, Blau WJ, Schulte K, Windle AH, Shaffer MSP: A comparative study of melt spun polyamide-12 fibres reinforced with carbon nanotubes and nanofibres. Polymer 2004, 45: 2001–2015. 10.1016/j.polymer.2004.01.023View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Guellati O, Janowska I, Bégin D, Guerioune M, Mekhalif Z, Delhalle J, Moldovan S, Ersen O, Pham-Huu : Influence of ethanol in the presence of H2 on the catalytic growth of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. Appl Catal A Gen 2012, 7: 423–424.Google Scholar
- Chen L, Xia K, Huang L, Li L, Pei L, Fei S: Facile synthesis and hydrogen storage application of nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes with bamboo like structure. Int J Hydrogen Energy 2013, 38: 3297–3303. 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2013.01.055View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Liu H, Zhang Y, Li R, Sun X, De´ Silets S, Abou-Rachid H, Jaidann M, Lussier L-S: Structural and morphological control of aligned nitrogen doped carbon nanotubes. Carbon 2010, 48: 1498–1507. 10.1016/j.carbon.2009.12.045View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Paradkar RP, Sakhalkar SS, He X, Ellison MS: Estimating crystallinity in high density polyethylene fibers using online Raman spectroscopy. J Appl Polym Sci 2003, 88: 545–549. 10.1002/app.11719View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Schachtschneider JH, Snyder RG: Vibrational analysis of the n-paraffins—II: normal co-ordinate calculations. Spectrochim Acta 1963, 19: 117–168. 10.1016/0371-1951(63)80096-XView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- McNally T, Pötschke P, Halley P, Murphy M, Martin D, Bell SEJ, Brennan GP, Bein D, Lemoine P, Quinn JP: Polyethylene multiwalled carbon nanotube composites. Polymer 2005, 46: 8222–8232. 10.1016/j.polymer.2005.06.094View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Inci B, Wagener KB: Decreasing the alkyl branch frequency in precision polyethylene: pushing the limits toward longer run lengths. J Am Chem Soc 2011, 133(31):11872–11875. 10.1021/ja2040046View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Trujillo M, Arnal M, Müller A, Laredo E, Bredeau S, Bonduel D, Dubois P: Thermal and morphological characterization of nanocomposites prepared by in situ polymerisation of high-density polyethylene on carbon nanotubes. Macromolecules 2007, 40(17):6268–6276. 10.1021/ma071025mView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Waddon A, Zheng L, Farris R, Coughlin EB: Nanostructured polyethylene-POSS copolymers: control of crystallization and aggregation. Nano Lett 2002, 2(10):1149–1155. 10.1021/nl020208dView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Butler MF, Donald AM, Bras W, Mant GR, Derbyshire GE, Ryan AJ: A real-time simultaneous small- and wide-angle X-ray-scattering study of in-situ deformation of isotropic polyethylene. Macromolecules 1995, 28(19):6383–6393. 10.1021/ma00123a001View ArticleGoogle Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.