In-situ interfacial polymerization for energy-efficient composite manufacturing

Prof. A. John Hart's group - MIT

Related publications: 

Chazot, C. A. C., Hart, A. J., Understanding and control of interactions between carbon nanotubes and polymers for manufacturing of high-performance composite materials,
Composites Science and Technology, Volume 183, 2019,
107795, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compscitech.2019.107795

Chazot, C. A. C., Jons, C. K., Hart, A. J., In Situ Interfacial Polymerization: A Technique for Rapid Formation of Highly Loaded Carbon Nanotube‐Polymer Composites, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 2005499. https://doi.org/10.1002/adfm.202005499

Chazot, C. A. C., Damirchi, B., van Duin, A. C. T., Hart, A. J., Molecular Alignment of a Meta-Aramid on Carbon Nanotubes by In-Situ Interfacial Polymerization., Nano Letters, 22, 3, 2022, 998–1006. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c03866

Composites of polymers and organized carbon nanotube (CNT) networks have been proposed as next-generation lightweight structural materials, yet polymer infiltration of CNT networks often results in stress-concentrating heterogeneities, due to local CNT aggregation or incomplete infiltration. During my PhD, I developed a new technique based on interfacial polymerization (IP), performed in-situ within CNT networks, to produce dense CNT-polymer composites with tailored polymer distribution. With in-situ interfacial polymerization (ISIP), polymers which are usually not easily processable, such as aramids (Kevlar, Nomex, etc.), can be introduced into dense CNT mats. Additionally, uniform polyamide-CNT composite sheets obtained by this method show a two-fold increase in elastic modulus and tensile strength compared to pristine CNT sheets.

The rapid rate and overall controllability of ISIP suggest its viability for formation of polymers within CNT networks via roll-to-roll methods. Importantly, ISIP features shorter processing times than direct polymer infiltration and preserves the morphology of the CNT network. Finally, ISIP is not limited to CNT networks - it can be used to obtain composites with controlled morphology of polymers and other porous materials such as electrospun nanofiber mats or foams.