Towards efficient dispersion of carbon nanotubes in thermotropic liquid crystals

Stefan Schymura, Martin Kühnast, Vanessa Lutz, Stefan Jagiella, Ursula Dettlaff-Weglikowska, Siegmar Roth, Frank Giesselmann, Carsten Tschierske, Giusy Scalia, Jan Lagerwall

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Motivated by numerous recent reports indicating attractive properties of composite materials of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and liquid crystals (LCs) and a lack of research aimed at optimizing such composites, the process of dispersing CNTs in thermotropic LCs is systematically studied. LC hosts can perform comparably or even better than the best known organic solvents for CNTs such as N -methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), provided that the dispersion process and choice of LC material are optimized. The chemical structure of the molecules in the LC is very important; variations in core as well as in terminalalkyl chain infl uence the result. Several observations moreover indicate that the anisotropic nematic phase, aligning the nanotubes in the matrix, per se stabilizes the dispersion compared to a host that is isotropic and thus yields random tube orientation. The chemical and physical phenomena governing the preparation of the dispersion and its stability are identifi ed, taking into account enthalpic, entropic, as well as kinetic factors. This allows a guideline on how tobest design and prepare CNT-LC composites to be sketched, following which tailored development of new LCs may take the advanced functional material that CNT-LC composites comprise to the stage of commercial application. © 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3350 - 3357
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomaterials
  • Electrochemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials

Cite this

Schymura, S., Kühnast, M., Lutz, V., Jagiella, S., Dettlaff-Weglikowska, U., Roth, S., ... Lagerwall, J. (2010). Towards efficient dispersion of carbon nanotubes in thermotropic liquid crystals. Advanced Functional Materials, 20(19), 3350 - 3357.