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Continuous and scalable fabrication and potential applications of multi-walled carbon nanotube aerogels from the floating catalyst method

Duong, Hai (National University of Singapore, Singapore, SGP); Tran, Thang (National University of Singapore, Singapore, SGP); Mikhalchan, Anastasiia (National University of Singapore, Singapore, SGP); Fan, Zeng (National University of Singapore, Singapore, SGP); Liu, Peng (National University of Singapore, Singapore, AUT)

We present a direct and scalable floating catalyst method to fabricate the selfsupporting carbon nanotube (CNT) aerogels at higher deposition rates . The whole fabrication process takes only about 1-2 hours and can produce meter-long CNT aerogels continuously without using freeze drying and supercritical drying processes. The undeniable advantages of the established process also include its precise control of the amount of impurities and morphology of the CNT aerogel. The density of the aerogelsranges from 0.55 to 32 mg/cm3 with high porosity (>98%) and surface area of up to 170 m2/g. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first reported CNT aerogels lighter than 1 mg/cm3 and comparable with the lightest graphene aerogels ever reported. At the same time, the CNT aerogels are not brittle, easy on handling and even the lightest ones can withstand a weight of ~150 times higher than their own (~15000 times higher than its density) without collapsing. The thermal conductivity is within the range of 0.127-0.137 W/m·K. The electrical conductivity reaches up to 106 S/m, far beyond of those reported for the CNT aerogel coated with graphene, pure graphene- or graphene/CNT aerogels, and other CNT aerogels synthesized using the freeze-drying and critical point-drying methods. With different collecting techniques and after the post treatments, we can produce the super strong km-long CNT fibers having up to 5.02 GPa of tensile strength and 444 GPa of young modulus and also meter-scale aligned CNT thin films with their thermal conductivity of up to 400 W/m.K, higher than thermal conductivities of copper and aluminium.

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