Plasma treatment as a method for functionalising and improving dispersion of carbon nanotubes in epoxy resins

J. Williams, W. Broughton, T. Koukoulas, S. S. Rahatekar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study reports on the results of plasma-treated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the presence of oxygen and ammonia which can be scaled up for relatively large quantities of nanomaterials. The plasma treatment has been shown to change the surface chemistry and energy as well as the morphology of the carbon nanotubes. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis shows increases in oxygen and nitrogen groups on the oxygen- and ammonia-treated CNTs, respectively. Titration of the enhanced oxygen plasma-treated CNTs reveals an increased presence of carboxylic acid groups at 2.97 wt% whilst bulk density decreases from 151 kg/m(3) for untreated carbon nanotubes to 76 kg/m(3) after the enhanced oxygen treatment. The free surface energy has also been shown to increase from 33.70 up to 53.72 mJ/m(2) determined using a capillary rise technique. The plasma-treated carbon nanotubes have been mixed in epoxy and have shown an improvement in dispersion, which was quantitatively evaluated using an optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique shown to be suitable for nanocomposite characterisation. This research has demonstrated that it is possible to surface functionalise large quantities of carbon nanotubes in a single process, and that this process improves the dispersion of the carbon nanotubes in epoxy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1013
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number3
Early online date11 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • plasma
  • carbon
  • nanotubes
  • epoxy


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