Characterization of silica-functionalized carbon nanotubes dispersed in water

Peter Stynoski, Paramita Mondal, Erik Wotring, Charles Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to enhance the strength, toughness, and multifunctional ability of composite materials. However, suitable dispersion and interfacial bonding remain as key challenges. Composites that are formed by reactions with water, like Portland cement concrete and mortar, pose a special challenge for dispersing the inherently hydrophobic nanotubes. The hydration of Portland cement also offers a specific chemical framework for interfacial bonding. In this study, nanoscale silica functional groups are covalently bonded to CNTs to improve their dispersion in water while providing interfacial bond sites for the proposed matrix material. The bond signatures of treated nanotubes are characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. In situ dispersion is characterized using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and point of zero charge (PZC) measurements. At the nanoscale, interparticle spacing was greatly increased. A slight increase in the PZC after treatment indicates the importance of steric effects in the dispersion mechanism. Overall, results indicate successful functionalization and dramatically improved dispersion stability in water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1396
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon nanotube (CNT)
  • Dispersion
  • Functionalization
  • Point of zero charge
  • Portland cement
  • Tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Modeling and Simulation


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