The advanced functionality theme will develop new methods of imparting functional behaviour by controlling CNT morphology and surface chemistry. Efforts will specifically focus on translating techniques developed in wet and vacuum CNT synthesis, areas that have received considerable interests, to high throughput gas-phase applications. The primary objective of these projects is to impart functionality identified by the industrial consortium into mass-produced materials.
Project 2A: CNT Morphology will seek to develop new methods of orienting and bundling nanotubes in desired configurations for enhanced properties such as electron and phonon transport. Current production techniques allow for alignment of CNTs along the reactor axis by applying tension to the produced nanotubes. Spray condensation of CNTs as the exit the reactor leads to higher densities and better fibre spinning. The work within this project will extend upon these methods by seeking to control CNTs within the reactor, as well as downstream processing.
Project 2B: CNT Surface Chemistry has the potential to radically increase the inherent properties of CNTs by the addition of surface functionalization within the CNT synthesis reactor. The work within this project will seek to develop methods for altering the surface chemistry of high throughput materials by means of adsorption and CVD growth from CNT surfaces. Two specific classes of coating materials will be targeted: inorganic metal oxide and organic polymers. Metal oxide coatings will be imparted through injection of organometallic precursors into the CNT reactor downstream of the initial CNT growth.
Project 2C: CNT Composites is specifically aimed at integrating CNT production with other materials in concurrent production and assembly processes. The CNT material produced by the process is essentially fibrous, whether condensed into basic filaments similar in diameter to those of carbon fibre or Kevlar, or as an uncondensed web of aligned nanotubes. Much of the industrial utility of established high performance fibres comes from their incorporation into composites. There is an established industry which builds composite materials via the pre-impregnation route, and the objective here is to make CNT-based composites and compare their properties with the traditional material. Improved composites can then be combined with established technology which is qualified for the aviation industry.