A novel method to synthesize single-wall carbon nanotube (SWNT)/poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) nanocomposite by in-situ polymerization in supercritical CO2 is presented. The surfaces of the SWNT bundles were first functionalized with amino ethyl methacrylate (AEMA) followed by co-polymerization with methyl methacrylate. Supercritical fluid enhanced the diffusivity of monomer and facilitated the growth of tethered PMMA chains near the entanglement area and the interstitial space of the SWNT bundles. Partial debundling and disentanglement of the SWNT bundles and an enhanced dispersion in the polymer matrix were observed under SEM and TEM. After the removal of the polymer matrix physically attached to the nanotubes, it is found that the nanotubes were covered by tethered PMMA chains, which were a few nanometers in thickness. This work creates a route for improving impregnation and dispersion in SWNT composites; the same process can be extended to other vinyl polymers.
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