The use of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) in high performance coatings is attractive for micro-scale structures or device fabrication due to the anisotropic geometry, however CNC are insulating materials. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) are also rod-shaped nanomaterials that display high mechanical strength and electrical conductivity. The hydrophobic regions of surface-modified CNC can interact with hydrophobic CNT and aid in association between the two anisotropic nanomaterials. The long-range electrostatic repulsion of CNC plays a role in forming a stable CNT and CNC mixture dispersion in water, which is integral to forming a uniform hybrid film. At concentrations favorable for film formation, the multiwalled nanotubes + CNC mixture dispersion shows cellular network formation, indicating local phase separation, while the single-walled nanotube + CNC mixture dispersion shows schlieren texture, indicating liquid crystal mixture formation. Conductive CNT + CNC hybrid films (5–20 μm thick) were cast on glass microscope slides with and without shear by blade coating. The CNT + CNC hybrid films electrical conductivity increased with increasing CNT loadings and some anisotropy was observed with the sheared hybrid films, although to a lesser extent than what was anticipated. Percolation models were applied to model the hybrid film conductivity and correlate with the hybrid film microstructure.
Jiang, M.; Seney, R.; Bayliss, P.C.; Kitchens, C.L. Carbon Nanotube and Cellulose Nanocrystal Hybrid Films. Molecules 2019, 24, 2662.