Effects of carbon nanotube alignment on electrical and mechanical properties of epoxy nanocomposites

Shafi Ullah Khan, Jayaram R. Pothnis, Jang Kyo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


This paper reports the alignment of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) in an epoxy matrix as a result of DC electric fields applied during composite curing. Optical microscopy and polarized Raman spectroscopy are used to confirm the CNT alignment. The alignment of CNTs gives rise to much improved electrical conductivity, elastic modulus and quasi-static fracture toughness compared to those with CNTs of random orientation. An extraordinarily low electrical percolation threshold of about 0.0031 vol% is achieved when measured along the alignment, which is more than one order of magnitude lower than 0.034 vol% with random orientation or that measured perpendicular to the aligned CNTs. The examination of the fracture surfaces identifies pertinent toughening mechanisms in aligned CNT composites, namely crack tip deflection and CNT pullout. The significance of this paper is that the technique employed here can tailor the physical, mechanical and fracture properties of bulk nanocomposites even at a very low CNT concentration.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalComposites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing
StatePublished - 2013


  • A. Particle-reinforcement
  • A. Polymer-matrix composites (PMCs)
  • B. Directional orientation
  • B. Electrical properties
  • Carbon nanotubes


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