Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics


Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Arun Shukla


Carbon nanotube (CNT) composites have attracted much interest due to their possible technical applications as conductive polymers and sensory materials. This study will consist of two major objectives: 1.) to investigate the thermal conductivity and thermal response of multi-wall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) composites under quasi-static loading, and 2.) to investigate the electrical response of carboxyl-terminated butadiene (CTBN) rubber-reinforced MWCNT/Epoxy composites under quasi-static and dynamic loading. Similar studies have shown that the electrical conductivity of CNT/Epoxy composites dramatically increases with compressive strains up to 15%. Part 1 seeks to find out if thermal conductivity show a similar response to electrical conductivity under an applied load. Part 2 seeks to investigate how the addition of rubber affects the mechanical and electrical response of the composite subjected to quasi-static and dynamic loading. By knowing how thermal and electrical properties change under a given applied strain, we attempt to broaden the breadth of understanding of CNT/epoxy composites and inqure the microscopic interactions occurring between the two.

Electrical experiments sought to investigate the electrical response of rubber-reinforced carbon nanotube epoxy composites under quasi-static and dynamic loading.

Specimens were fabricated with CTBN rubber content of 10 parts per hundredth resin (phr), 20 phr, 30 phr and 0 phr for a basis comparison. Both quasi-static and dynamic mechanical response showed a consistent decrease in peak stress and Young's modulus with increasing rubber content. Trends in the electrical response between each case were clearly observed with peak resistance changes ranging from 58% to 73% and with each peak occurring at a higher value with increasing rubber content, with the exception of the rubber-free specimens. It was concluded that among the rubber-embedded specimens, the addition of rubber helped to delay micro-cracking and degradation and thus prolong the electrical response of the specimen to higher strains.

Thermal experiments were first established by designing and fabricating an apparatus to determine the thermal conductivity of an unknown material. The principle of the apparatus is a steady-state one-dimensional comparative method where reference materials of known thermal conductivity are used to determine the system heat flux and in turn, the thermal conductivity of a given specimen. A thermal percolation study was conducted in order to determine a possible threshold of thermal transport of the material. The recorded values of thermal conductivity from 0 - 0.2 wt% showed no such threshold with all specimens of different CNT loadings yielding similar values of thermal conductivity. The apparatus containing the CNT/epoxy specimen was then quasi-statically compressed to observe how the thermal conductivity changes with strains up to 20%. While a small decrease in thermal conductivity was observed under strain, it can mostly be attributed to material degradation and bulging.



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