Disclosed herein is a sequential functionalization methodology for the covalent modification of nanotubes with between one and four repeat units of a polymer. Covalent attachment of oligomer units to the surface of nanotubes results in oligomer units forming an organic sheath around the nanotubes, polymer-functionalized-nanotubes (P-NTs). P-NTs possess chemical functionality identical to that of the functionalizing polymer, and thus provide nanoscale scaffolds which may be readily dispersed within a monomer solution and participate in the polymerization reaction to form a polymer-nanotube/polymer composite. Formation of polymer in the presence of P-NTs leads to a uniform dispersion of nanotubes within the polymer matrix, in contrast to aggregated masses of nanotubes in the case of pristine-NTs. The covalent attachment of oligomeric units to the surface of nanotubes represents the formation of a functional nanoscale building block which can be readily dispersed and integrated within the polymer to form a novel composite material.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
This invention was made with U.S. Government support under Contract Number DE-AC02-05CH11231 between the U.S. Department of Energy and The Regents of the University of California for the management and operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention.