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High performance natural rubber composites with a hierarchical reinforcement structure of carbon nanotube modified natural fibers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials and Design
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


A simple and facile method for depositing multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) onto the surface of naturally occurring short jute fibers (JFs) is reported. Hierarchical multi-scale structures were formed with CNT-networks uniformly distributed and fully covering the JFs (JF-CNT), as depicted by the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrographs. The impact of these hybrid fillers on the mechanical properties of a natural rubber (NR) matrix was systematically investigated. Pristine JFs were cut initially to an average length of 2.0 mm and exposed to an alkali treatment (a-JFs) to remove impurities existing in the raw jute. MWCNTs were treated under mild acidic conditions to generate carboxylic acid moieties. Afterward, MWCNTs were dispersed in an aqueous media and short a-JFs were allowed to react with them. Raman spectroscopy confirmed the chemical interaction between CNTs and JFs. The JF-CNT exposed quite hydrophobic behavior as revealed by the water contact angle measurements, improving the wettability of the non-polar NR. Consequently, the composite interfacial adhesion strength was significantly enhanced while a micro-scale "mechanical interlocking" mechanism was observed from the interphase-section transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. SEM analysis of the composite fracture surfaces demonstrated the interfacial strength of NR/a-JF and NR/JF-CNT composites, at different fiber loadings. It can be presumed that the CNT-coating effectively compatibillized the composite structure acting as a macromolecular coupling agent. A detailed analysis of stress-strain and dynamic mechanical spectra confirmed the high mechanical performance of the hierarchical composites, consisting mainly of materials arising from natural resources.


  • Carbon nanotubes, Elastomers, Hierarchical composites, Interface, Multi-scale reinforcement, Natural fibers