The carbon nanotubes (CNTs) contents, ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) concentrations and temperatures of UHMWPE, and CNTs added gel solutions exhibited significant influence on their rheological and spinning properties and the drawability of the corresponding UHMWPE/CNTs as-prepared fibers. Tremendously high shear viscosities (s) of UHMWPE gel solutions were found as the temperatures reached 140°C, at which their s values approached the maximum. After adding CNTs, the s values of UHMWPE/CNTs gel solutions increase significantly and reach a maximum value as the CNTs contents increase up to a specific value. At each spinning temperature, the achievable draw ratios obtained for UHMWPE as-prepared fibers prepared near the optimum concentration are significantly higher than those of UHMWPE as-prepared fibers prepared at other concentrations. After addition of CNTs, the achievable draw ratios of UHMWPE/CNTs as-prepared fibers prepared near the optimum concentration improve consistently and reach a maximum value as their CNTs contents increase up to an optimum value. To understand these interesting drawing properties of the UHMWPE and UHMWPE/CNTs as-prepared fibers, the birefringence, thermal, morphological, and tensile properties of the as-prepared and drawn fibers were investigated. Possible mechanisms accounting for these interesting properties are proposed.
Journal of Applied Polymer Science 110(5), pp.2538-2548