Hierarchical composites of carbon nanotubes on carbon fiber: Influence of growth condition on fiber tensile properties

Qiuhong Zhang, Jianwei Liu, Ryan Sager, Liming Dai, Jeffery Baur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing carbon nanotubes (CNT) on the surface of high performance carbon fibers (CF) provides a means to tailor the thermal, electrical and mechanical properties of the fiber-resin interface of a composite. However, many CNT growth processes require pretreatment of the fiber, deposition of an intermediate layer, or harsh growth conditions which can degrade tensile properties and limit the conduction between the fiber and the nanotubes. In this study, high density multi-wall carbon nanotubes were grown directly on two different polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fibers (T650 and IM-7) using thermal Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). The influence of CVD growth conditions on the single-fiber tensile properties and CNT morphology was investigated. The mechanical properties of the resultant hybrid fibers were shown to depend on the carbon fiber used, the presence of a sizing (coating), the CNT growth temperature, growth time, and atmospheric conditions within the CVD chamber. The CNT density and alignment morphology was varied with growth temperature and precursor flow rate. Overall, it was concluded that a hybrid fiber with a well-adhered array of dense MWCNTs could be grown on the unsized T650 fiber with no significant degradation in tensile properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-601
Number of pages8
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • A. Carbon fibers
  • A. Carbon nanotubes
  • B. Interface
  • B. Mechanical properties
  • E. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • General Engineering


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