Polymer Coating of Carbon Nanotube Fibers for Electric Microcables

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2014 Nov 4;4(4):879-893. doi: 10.3390/nano4040879.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are considered the most promising candidates to replace Cu and Al in a large number of electrical, mechanical and thermal applications. Although most CNT industrial applications require macro and micro size CNT fiber assemblies, several techniques to make conducting CNT fibers, threads, yarns and ropes have been reported to this day, and improvement of their electrical and mechanical conductivity continues. Some electrical applications of these CNT conducting fibers require an insulating layer for electrical insulation and protection against mechanical tearing. Ideally, a flexible insulator such as hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR) on the CNT fiber can allow fabrication of CNT coils that can be assembled into lightweight, corrosion resistant electrical motors and transformers. HNBR is a largely used commercial polymer that unlike other cable-coating polymers such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), it provides unique continuous and uniform coating on the CNT fibers. The polymer coated/insulated CNT fibers have a 26.54 μm average diameter-which is approximately four times the diameter of a red blood cell-is produced by a simple dip-coating process. Our results confirm that HNBR in solution creates a few microns uniform insulation and mechanical protection over a CNT fiber that is used as the electrically conducting core.

Keywords: carbon nanotubes (CNTs); coating; densification; doping; microcable.