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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2015, Article ID 479053, 8 pages
Research Article

In Situ Monitoring of Dispersion Dynamics of Carbon Nanotubes during Sonication Using Electrical Conductivity Measurements

1Department of Chemical Engineering, King Faisal University, P.O. Box 380, Al-Ahsa 31982, Saudi Arabia
2Department of Physics & Astronomy, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2455, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
3Department of Chemical Engineering, King Saud University, P.O. Box 800, Riyadh 11421, Saudi Arabia

Received 31 July 2015; Accepted 27 September 2015

Academic Editor: Stefano Bellucci

Copyright © 2015 Syed Sadiq Ali et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The main challenge in the fabrication of carbon nanotube- (CNT-) based composite materials is the optimization of the sonication time in order to obtain homogenous and uniform dispersion of CNTs. Past studies mostly relied on postprocessing characterization techniques to address this issue. In the present, however, in situ monitoring of dispersion dynamics of CNTs in distilled water is carried out using instantaneous conductivity measurements. Using a computer controlled data acquisition system, the time evolution of the solution conductivity was carefully recorded. The data were then used to evaluate the intensity of turbulent fluctuations, which clearly highlighted the existence of three distinct sonication phases. During the first phase, the conductivity fluctuations initially increased attaining ultimately a maximum, thus indicating the occurrence of large agglomerates of CNTs. During the second phase of sonication, the solution conductivity showed a rather steep increase while fluctuations steadily declined. This phenomenon can be attributed to the breakdown of large CNT agglomerates, resulting in greater dispersion homogeneity of CNTs. During the third phase, after almost 650 kJ/L of sonication energy, the conductivity increase was almost negligible. The fluctuation intensity also remained constant during this phase signifying that the further sonication was no longer required.