Carbon nanotubes, nanocomposites, percolation threshold, photovoltaic devices, polymer electrolyte materials


The first part of the study deals with the preparation of carbon nanotube/polymer nanocomposite materials. The dispersion of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) using trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) as a co-solvent and its subsequent use in polymer nanocomposite fabrication is reported. The use of carbon nanotube/ polymer nanocomposite system for the fabrication of organic solar cells is also studied. TFA is a strong but volatile acid which is miscible with many commonly used organic solvents. Our study demonstrates that MWNTs can be effectively purified and readily dispersed in a range of organic solvents including dimethyl formamide (DMF), tetrahydrofuran (THF), and dichloromethane when mixed with 10 vol% trifluoroacetic acid (TFA). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic analysis revealed that the chemical structure of the TFA-treated MWNTs remained intact without oxidation. The dispersed carbon nanotubes in TFA/THF solution were mixed with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) to fabricate polymer nanocomposites. A good dispersion of nanotubes in solution and in polymer matrices was observed and confirmed by SEM and optical microscopy study. Low percolation thresholds of electrical conductivity were observed from the fabricated MWNT/PMMA composite films. A carbon nanotube/ polymer nanocomposites system was also used for the fabrication of organic solar cells. A blend of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and poly3-hexylthiophene (P3HT) was used as the active layer in the device. The device characteristics showed that the fabrication of the solar cells was successful without any shorts in the circuit. The second part of the study deals with the preparation and characterization of electrode and electrolyte materials for lithium ion batteries. A system of lithium trifluoroacetate/ PMMA was used for its study as the electrolyte in lithium battery. A variety of different processing conditions were used to prepare the polymer electrolyte system. The conductivity of the electrolyte plays a critical role in the high power output of a battery. A high power output requires fast transport of lithium ions for which the conductivity of the electrolyte must be at least 3 x 10^-4 S/cm. Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) was used to determine the conductivity of the polymer electrolyte films. Among the different processing conditions used to prepare the polymer electrolyte material, wet films of PMMA/salt system prepared by using 10vol% of TFA in THF showed the best results. At about 70wt% loading of the salt in the polymer, the conductivity obtained was about 1.1 x 10^-2 S/cm. Recently, the use of vanadium oxide material as intercalation host for lithium has gained widespread attention. Sol-gel derived vanadium oxide films were prepared and its use as a cathode material for lithium ion battery was studied. The application of carbon nanotubes in lithium ion battery was explored. A carbon nanotube /block copolymer (P3HT-b-PS) composite was prepared and its potential as an anode material was evaluated.


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Graduation Date





Huo, Qun


Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (M.S.M.S.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering








Release Date

December 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)