Rheological behaviour and mechanical characterization of injectable poly(propylene fumarate)/single-walled carbon nanotube composites for bone tissue engineering

Nanotechnology. 2005 Jul;16(7):S531-8. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/16/7/030. Epub 2005 Jun 2.

Abstract

This work investigated the effects of the use of a surfactant or the functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) on their dispersion in uncrosslinked poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and the mechanical reinforcement of crosslinked composites as a function of the SWNT concentration. Rheological measurements showed good dispersion of SWNTs in uncrosslinked PPF at low concentrations of 0.05 wt% and SWNT aggregation for higher concentrations for all formulations examined. Mechanical testing demonstrated significant reinforcement in the compressive and flexural mechanical properties of crosslinked nanocomposites which peaked for low SWNT concentrations of the order of 0.05 wt%. For example, a 74% increase was recorded for the compressive modulus and a 69% increase for the flexural modulus of nanocomposites with functionalized SWNTs at a 0.05 wt% loading. Nevertheless, this reinforcement was not related to the use of a surfactant or the functionalization of the SWNTs tested. Scanning electron microscopy examinations of fractured nanocomposite surfaces revealed the formation of SWNT aggregates at higher concentrations corroborating the rheological and mechanical data. These results suggest that the dispersion of individual SWNTs in a uncrosslinked formulation is pivotal to the development of injectable nanocomposites for bone tissue engineering applications.