Applied Surface Science, Vol.433, 213-221, 2018
Investigation of the interfacial properties of polyurethane/carbon nanotube hybrid composites: A molecular dynamics study
Considering the varied applications of hybrid polymer/carbon nanotube composites and the constant progress in the synthesis methods of such materials, we report a theoretical study of interfacial layer formation between pristine single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and polyurethane (PU) using molecular dynamic simulations. We vary the SWCNT diameter and the number of PU chains to examine various PU-SWCNT interaction patterns. Our simulations indicate the important role of intra-chain forces in PU. No regular polymeric structures could be identified on the carbon nanotube surface during the simulations. We find that increasing the SWCNT diameter results in stronger polymer binding. However, higher surface loadings of PU lead to stronger interpenetration by the polymeric segments; this effect is more apparent for SWCNTs with small diameters. Our core finding is that the attached PU binds most strongly to the carbon nanotubes with the largest diameters. Polymer dynamics reveal the loose distribution of PU chains in these systems. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.