Properties of polymers can be optimized through processing methods or by the addition of nanofillers. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have gained attention due to their promising behavior. Carbon nanotubes are essentially a sheet of graphene wrapped into a cylindrical shape with either a single or multiple walls. Tube diameters are approximately nanometres, but they can be micrometres in length. Due to the unique properties of nanotubes, they offer promise in composite materials with current research dedicated to embedding them in a polymer matrix. If improvements are to be made, the nanotubes need to be in an aligned configuration. This presents challenges due to the strong intermolecular forces that cause nanotube agglomeration leading to poor quality dispersion and random CNT orientations. Thus, there are two particular challenges to the formation of polymer composites based on CNTs: dispersion and alignment, and these are the focus of this chapter. We consider recent developments in the synthesis of carbon nanotubes and their properties. Next, we detail the challenges of dispersion and alignment that are presented in the preparation of polymer/CNT composites. Finally, we review the literature to identify progress made in preparing high performance polymer/CNT composites and their properties and present one particular solution.
Part of the book: Carbon Nanotubes