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Carbon Nanotube Confinement Strategies to Develop Novel Polymer Matrix Composites (POCO)
Start date: Nov 1, 2008, End date: Oct 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Light composite materials for load bearing applications can be made using different type reinforcements and polymer matrices. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) have been studied extensively because of their exceptional mechanical and electrical properties, yet their practical and extensive use in commercial materials is missing. The utilization of CNTs as reinforcement to design novel composites is a quite old idea. However, there is a lack of a knowledge based approach to achieve the nanostructuration level required to optimize the CNT/polymer composite performances. The main objective of POCO is to get innovative polymer composites filled with CNT in order to obtain nanostructured materials with tailor made properties. The CNT/polymer interface is, together with the CNT and the polymer, the third and most important element that will determine the final properties. Hence the chemical functionalization of CNT surfaces is of utter importance to achieve not only a proper dispersion and anchorage of the nanotubes into the polymer matrix during processing, but also to optimize the performance itself in solid state. Our approach involves the development of different CNT confinement strategies to develop novel polymer matrix nanocomposites. Several polymers have been selected as representative of thermosetting and thermoplastic materials. This ensures that the output of POCO could be applied in a wide range of applications: automotive, aeronautics, building, aerospace, wind power generation (blades), ship building, biomedicine…This project will be focused on four fundamental properties: (i) high strength for structural and mechanical components, (ii) tuneable electrical properties, (iii) low wear under fretting (low amplitude reciprocating movement) and (iv) superhydrophobicity. Multifunctionality of these materials will be an important benefit as the requirements for composite polymeric materials are quite diverse

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