The formation of chains of aligned carbon nanofibres (CNFs) in polymers is a subject of great interest in the field of multifunctional nanocomposites. The mechanism of CNF chain assembly and growth in a low viscosity epoxy is investigated by developing a finite element model of a chain attached to an electrode. The model examines the combined effects of electrostatic and electrohydrodynamic forces on chain morphology. The electrohydrodynamic forces are modelled using the theory of ac electro-osmosis. The predictions of the model are supported by experimental results. The experiments were conducted on a CNF/epoxy/amine mixture by applying an ac field at frequencies ranging from 100 to 100 000 Hz. The predictions of the model qualitatively capture the variations of chain morphology and growth rate as functions of ac frequency. Higher frequencies promote a more uniform and denser network of chains. The rate of growth of chains is highest at an intermediate frequency. A uniform network of chains was observed at frequencies of 1 kHz and greater in the experiments. The rate of growth of chains was maximized at a frequency of 1 kHz for a liquid viscosity of 0.03 Pa s.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films