Nanoscale Material Development
Dr. Qun Huo and Dr. Lei Zhai have collaborated to develop a novel conductive block copolymer systems to disperse and stabilize CNTs in different solvent media and polymer matrices. The conjugated polymer block such as polythiophenes can form strong π-π interactions with carbon nanotube walls, while the non-conjugated polymer block will provide the de-bundled CNTs with a good solubility and stability in a wide range of organic solvents and host polymer matrices. Various block copolymers including P3HT-b-PS, P3HT-b-PMMA have been utilized to fabricate CNT polymeric nanocoposites with interesting mechanical and electrical properties. A unique superhydrophobic and conductive nanocomposite thin film coating was also fabricated through an extremely facile solution casting process. This approach can be applied to a wide range of substrates extending from glass, silica wafer, gold, to aluminum foil, fabrics and papers. In addition to superhydrophobicity, the film also exhibits high electrical conductivity and excellent sensitivity for gas sensing without moisture interference. These properties, combined with the ease of fabrication and large surface area provided by the porous morphology, make the conductive block copolymer/ CNT composites promising materials for many potential applications. The research results have been published by Advanced Materials.