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Multiwall carbon nanotube-filled natural rubber: Electrical and mechanical properties

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Author(s): L. Bokobza

Journal: eXPRESS Polymer Letters
ISSN 1788-618X

Volume: 6;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 213;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Polymer composites | Rubber | Reinforcements | Carbon nanotubes

ABSTRACT
The influence of multiwall carbon nanotube (MWNTs) contents on electrical and mechanical properties of MWNTs-reinforced natural rubber (NR) composites is studied. The volume resistivity of the composites decreases with increasing the MWNTs content and the electrical percolation threshold is reached at less than 1 phr of MWNTs (phr = parts of filler by weight per hundred parts of rubber). This is caused by the formation of conductive chains in the composites. Electrical measurements under uniaxial deformation of a composite carried out at a filler loading above the percolation threshold, indicate a gradual disconnection of the conducting network with the bulk deformation. The drop in the storage modulus G' with the shear strain amplitude (Payne effect) is also attributed to a breakdown of the filler network. Considerable improvement in the stiffness is obtained upon incorporation of MWNTs in the polymer matrix but the main factor for reinforcement of NR by MWNTs appears to be their high aspect ratio rather than strong interfacial interaction with rubber. The tensile strength and the elongation at break of the composites are reduced with regard to the unfilled sample. This is probably due to the presence of some agglomerates that increase with the nanotube content. This hypothesis is confirmed by a cyclic loading of the composites where it is seen that the deformation at break occurs at a much higher level of strain in the second stretch than in the first one. The overall significant property improvements are the result of a better nanotube dispersion attributed to the combined use of tip sonication and cyclohexane as dispersion aids during composite processing.
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