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Measurement of Flexural Rigidity of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes by Dynamic Scanning Electron Microscopy

Fortini, Renata; Meyer-Plath, Asmus; Kehren, Dominic; Gernert, Ulrich; Jácome, Leonardo Agudo; Sturm, Heinz

In this work the flexural rigidity of individual large diameter multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) was investigated. The bending modulus were obtained by detecting the resonance frequencies of mechanically excited cantilevered carbon nanotubes using the so-called dynamic scanning electron microscopy technique, and applying the Euler–Bernoulli beam theory. For the nanotubes studied, we determined a modulus of up to 160 GPa. This agrees with values reported by other authors for MWCNTs produced by catalytic chemical vapor deposition, however, it is 6-8 times smaller than values reported for single and multi-walled carbon nanotubes produced by arc-discharge synthesis. Toxicological studies with carbon nanotubes have been showing that inhaled airborne nanofibers that reach the deep airways of the respiratory system may lead to serious, asbestos-like lung diseases. These studies suggested that their toxicity critically depends on the fiber flexural rigidity, with high rigidity causing cell lesions. To complement the correlation between observed toxicological effects and fiber rigidities, reliable and routinely applicable measurement techniques for the flexural rigidity of nanofibers are required.
Published in: Fibers, 10.3390/fib8050031, MDPI