(218c) Carbon Nanotube – Unsaturated Polyester Resin Composites

Kayatin, M. J., Auburn University
Wagner, N. K., Auburn University
Yuan, R. L., Lamar University
Jones, D. M., Lamar University

We have investigated the dispersion of functionalized and unfunctionalized vapor grown carbon fibers (VGCFs) and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) into an unsaturated polyester resin (UPR) matrix. Pre-cure dispersions of nanotubes in UPR were examined to determine the relationship between structure, processing conditions, and resulting composite properties. The microstructure of the nanotube/UPR system was characterized using rheology and microscopy. Additionally, the mechanical properties of UPR impregnated bucky-papers fabricated using both the aforementioned nanomaterials and glass fibers were examined in various lay-up geometries. Morphology and fracture surfaces of the resulting composite systems were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Limiting the potential for property enhancement is both the degree of nanotube dispersion throughout the composite material and adhesion between the nanotube reinforcement and resin matrix. In order to overcome these limitations, SWNTs were functionalized via HNO3/H2SO4 oxidation resulting in the addition of carboxylic acid groups. The degree of functionalization was characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis-mass spectroscopy (TGA-MS), and Raman Spectroscopy.