Preparation, characterization and properties of polycaprolactone diol-functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotube/thermoplastic polyurethane composite

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were chemically functionalized to prepare thermoplastic polyurethane (PU) composites with enhanced properties. In order to achieve a high compatibility of functionalized MWCNTs with the PU matrix, polycaprolactone diol (PCL), as one of PU’s monomers, was selectively grafted on the surface of MWCNTs (MWCNT–PCL), while carboxylic acid groups functionalized MWCNTs (MWCNT–COOH) and raw MWCNTs served as control. Both MWCNT–COOH and MWCNT–PCL improved the dispersion of MWCNTs in the PU matrix and interfacial bonding between them at 1 wt% loading fraction. The MWCNT–PCL/PU composite showed the greatest extent of improvement, where the tensile strength and modulus were 51.2% and 33.5% higher than those of pure PU respectively, without sacrificing the elongation at break. The considerable improvement in both mechanical properties and thermal stability of MWCNT–PCL/PU composite should result from the homogeneous dispersion of MWCNT–PCL in the PU matrix and strong interfacial bonding between them.