In the past, the dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in both liquids and solids has been difficult due to the high surface interactions between the tubes. Dispersion of polymer CNT composites is important for such benefits as structural reinforcement of composites, the percolation threshold of CNT based conducting materials, and the thermal properties with the exploitation of the high surface area of CNTs. Here we discuss two approaches towards addressing dispersion of multiwalled nanotubes (MWNTs). One approach is the use of surfactant chemicals selected on the basis that they interact with CNT chemical groups. The second approach is the functionalization through covalent bonding of the CNTs with various polymers including polyethylenimine (PEI), and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). The two approaches were evaluated to determine whether covalent functionalization was more beneficial than the use of surfactants. Characterization of the dispersion was performed using various microscopy techniques.
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