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Synthesis and Integration of Nanostructured Carbon: Carbon Nanotube-Polymer Nanocomposites and Graphene

  • Author(s): Gulotty, Richard Stephen
  • Advisor(s): Balandin, Alexander A.
  • et al.

Nanostructured carbon, in the form of tubes or sheets, exhibits exceptional thermal and electrical properties. Graphene, a single atomic sheet of hexagonal sp2 bonded carbon, posesses a thermal conductivity higher than diamond, with an extremely high electron mobility. Carbon nanotubes (CNT), which are tubes composed of one or more graphene sheets, also posess high thermal conductivity and electron mobility. One of the major problems facing the application of nanomaterials is integration into already existing material systems. A second challenge is controlled synthesis of nanomaterials. In this dissertation research novel methods were investigated for coupling carbon nanotubes to polymer matrices, as well as new approaches for controlling the synthesis of graphene and reduced graphene oxide like carbon (R-GOC) on copper (Cu) foils via chemical vapor deposition. It was determined that carboxylic functionalization of carbon nanotubes was effective in improving the coupling of CNTs to polymer matrices, affecting the thermal transport of the resulting CNT-polymer nanocomposites. From the CVD studies it was established that the cooling phase gases flowed after deposition influence the growth mechanics of graphene on Cu foil. Further CVD studies showed that methane may be decomposed directly onto quartz to form reduced graphene oxide like carbon thin films. The obtained thermal characterization results are important for development of CNTs as fillers for composite pastes with high thermal conductivity, and the results of the CVD studies are important for developing further understanding of growth mechanics of bilayer graphene and other nanostructured carbon. In addition to the fundamental study of CVD synthesis of graphene and R-GOC, this dissertation work includes engineering of graphene and R-GOC to various applications, including the development of the thinnest flexible transistor with active materials made from all-2D materials, as well as large-scale electron transparent windows, and transparent conducting thin films.

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