Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in the early 1990s, a new era in nanotechnology opened up, impacting both scientific and technological fronts. One of the key challenges in processing of carbon nanotube-based materials and structures is proper dispersion of the nanoconstituents. Fundamental roadblocks to maximumize utilization of the exceptional properties of carbon nanotubes are their tendency to aggregate due to intermolecular forces and the resulting difficulties in dispersing them into individual tubes.
In this study, a novel carbon nanotube dispersion technology that uses electrospraying was developed, analyzed, and evaluated. We established image analysis based measurement that can be used to quantify the degree and uniformity of carbon nanotube dispersion, and performed a series of designed experiments. Rigorous statistical analyses were conducted to investigate the parametric effect of electrospraying, and the design of experiments based models were derived. As validated through experiments, the design of experiments models can serve as effective guidelines for selecting the electrospraying parameters that allow controlled nanoparticle dispersion.
Carbon nanotube electrospraying is expected to be applicable to a broad range of technical fields, owing to its low cost, ease of implementation, environmental friendliness, and scalability for industry use. Potential applications include, transparent, conductive carbon nanotube coating for flexible displays, multiscale carbon nanotube patterning, and continuous nanocomposite processing, the proofs-of-concept of which have been demonstrated in this study