Multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) grafting onto electrospun poly(acrylonitrile) (PAN) nanofibers yields a layer by layer deposition of self assembled (LBL-SA) nanotube filaments or nanowires. PAN fibers were first functionalized with carboxylic groups through a sodium hydroxide treatment. Then, poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDAC), a positively charged polyelectrolyte was adsorbed onto the fibers via electrostatic interaction. When placed in contact with the modified fibers, acid treated MWCNT (ac-MWCNT) self-assemble, producing a dense and continuous layer onto the polymer nanofibers, while the inherent structure and morphology of the polymer nanofibers are retained. This method is being investigated as a universal approach applicable to a variety of materials. By producing layers of nanotubes, the electrical conductivity of polymers may be improved due to formation of a continuous MWCNT monolayer on the surface as opposed to traditional incorporation of large amounts of nanotubes into the bulk of the polymer. This method can further be implemented on polymer systems that promote a positively charged surface for COOH functionalized MWCNT to attach. Polyamides offer a perfect scenario in which they do not need to be modified to allow hydrogen bonding between the polymer and the ac-MWCNTs. Electrospun polyamide 11 (PA 11) provides a network of 100 nm and greater, fibers for deposition of ac-MWCNTs. These MWCNT coated nanofibers possess high electrical conductivity, about 0.1 S/cm, resulting from a dense coverage of MWCNTs on the polymer surface.
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