Rigidity of lamellar nanosheets†
Lamellar nanosheets of contrasting materials are ubiquitous in functional coatings and electronic devices. They also represent a unique paradigm for polymer nanocomposites. Here, we use fluid-assembled lamellar nanosheets – alternating layers of polymer and single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) – to gain insight into the flexural mechanics of such hybrid films. Specifically, we measure the modulus and yield strain as a function of both layer thickness and the total number of layers. Overall, we find that the multi-layered films exhibit the greatest synergistic effects near a layer thickness of 20 nm or less, which we relate to the characteristic width of the SWCNT–polymer interface. For all layer thicknesses, we find that the nanosheets have realized the bulk limit by six layers. Our results have potentially profound implications for controlling the rigidity and durability of polymer nanocomposites, thin hybrid films and flexible heterojunctions.