Probing buried carbon nanotubes within polymer-nanotube composite matrices by Atomic Force Microscopy

In Yee Phang, Tianxi Liu, Wei-De Zhang, Holger Schönherr, Gyula J. Vancso

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Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MW-CNT) inside a polyamide-6 (PA6)–MW-CNT composite were visualized by atomic force microscopy (i) in a field-assisted intermittent contact and (ii) in the tunneling (TUNA) mode. Individual buried MW-CNTs were clearly discerned within the PA6 matrix. An average diameter of 33 ± 5 nm of the MW-CNTs was determined based on field-assisted intermittent contact mode AFM images, which is consistent with the expected size of PA6-coated MW-CNTs. Single well dispersed MW-CNTs that are located in the sub-surface region of the composite were also observed in the TUNA mode. These new AFM approaches circumvent the tedious sample preparation based on ultramicrotoming required for high resolution electron microscopy studies to obtain “in-depth” morphological information and hence are expected to facilitate the analysis of CNT-based and other nanocomposites in the future.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)4136-4142
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean polymer journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Nylon-6
  • TUNA mode
  • Conducting mode
  • Atomic Force Microscopy
  • IR-72079
  • Carbon nanotube composites
  • METIS-243271

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