Weizmann Institute

FTA:   Inorganic nanotubes, from nanomechanics to improved nanocomposites


R. Tenne (director), Y. Prior , H.D. Wagner, E. Joselevich and E. Bouchbinder (Weizmann Institute of Science), M. Lellouch (Bar-Ilan University), M. Bar-Sadan (Ben Gurion University), H. Dodiuk and S. Kenig (Shenkar College), L. Rapoport and A. Zak (Holon Institute of Technology).


The goals of this FTA project are to investigate the properties of polymer nanocomposites containing inorganic nanotubes and fullerene-like nanoparticles and develop technologies based on such nanocomposites for the Israeli industry. To fulfill these goals, a multi-scale “bottom-up” approach has been undertaken.

On a very fundamental level, the mechanical properties of individual WS 2 , or similar nanotubes, will be studied, and new nanotubes with potentially improved mechanical properties will be synthesized and characterized. Optical techniques, such as Raman spectroscopy – direct and tip enhanced, which provide information on the local mechanical properties of nanomaterials and their interfacial properties with the polymer matrix, will be used extensively.
Multiscale theoretical approaches to predict the properties of inorganic nanotubes-polymer matrices will be developed. On the higher level, the surface interaction of the nanotubes with different thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers will be investigated. The surfaces of such nanotubes will be modified in order to try optimizing the nanotube-polymer interaction. On the upper level, polymer nanocomposites containing inorganic nanotubes will be engineered in order to optimize a desirable set of mechanical properties. Finally, a serious attempt will be done to transfer the knowhow gathered in this project to the local industry.


Strong collaborations have been established already in several cases via dual supervision of several joint students. To fulfill the goals of the project, several systems, such as Raman microscope, near field Raman set-up; electron microscope are being ordered.

The interactions with the industry are established through informal personal contacts and invitations (for the industry) to take part in the half year gathering of the FTA workshops. The project is managed by the Weizmann Institute. The deliverables of this FTA will be publications in the open scientific literature as well as patents and licensing agreements to the industry in the more advanced stages of the project.


The progress in this project can be summarized along a few fronts:


1. Optically, a long series of Raman measurements in the visible and the UV was carried out to identify and define the composition of the most appropriate Raman system. As a result, a system was ordered from an Israeli company (Nanonics Imaging) which provides AFM/NSOM/TERS/Raman capabilities, and a second, UV based   Raman system, is in final stages of definition soon to be ordered. In preliminary studies were able to measure single nanotubes on various surfaces, but so far without nanometric spatial resolution.


2. Synthesis of rhenium doped nanoparticles-nanotubes was shown to confer these nanomaterials with surface charge, making them suitable for many applications (patent application); synthesis of new nanotubes from misfit compounds was demonstrated (patent application).


3. Electromechanical devices based on single WS 2   nanotubes were fabricated and preliminary series of measurements were undertaken.


4. Surface functionalization of WS 2   nanotubes by polyCOOH groups without damaging the nanotubes was demonstrated. This process paves the way for a multitude of follow-up reactions which allows blending the nanotubes with any polymer environment.


5. Quantitative measurements of adhesion between individual WS 2   nanotubes and different liquids are underway. A new set-up has been added to the electron microscope allowing precise adhesion measurements of the nanotubes with viscous polymer blends at any relevant temperature.


6. Polyurethane-WS 2   nanotubes nanocomposites demonstrating record adhesion energies were studied.


7. The beneficial effect of WS 2   nanotubes on the tribological behavior of aerospace compatible epoxy was investigated.