The combined processes of spark plasma sintering and hot extrusion were used to fabricate a multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) reinforced aluminum (Al) matrix composite. The structural defects of carbon nanotubes (CNT) at various sintering temperatures were investigated by Raman spectroscopy. A small amount of Al liquid phase was generated and it reacted with disordered CNTs, even during the solid-state spark plasma sintering process. The influence of Al carbides generated by the reaction between Al and disordered CNTs is discussed from a microstructural viewpoint and in relation to tensile strength. We conclude that structurally controlled CNTs could potentially be attractive for metal matrix applications, and could significantly improve the mechanical properties of Al-CNT composites.
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