Co/multi-walled carbon nanotubes/polyethylene composites for microwave absorption: Tuning the effectiveness of electromagnetic shielding by varying the components ratio

Kazakova, Mariya A.; Semikolenova, Nina, V; Korovin, Evgeniy Yu; Zhuravlev, Viktor A.; Selyutin, Alexander G.; et al. Composites Science And Technology.

We present novel polyethylene (PE) composites for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding application. They are based on cobalt modified multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) produced via in situ polymerization of ethylene, with the Ti-Ziegler–Natta catalyst preliminarily immobilized on Co/MWCNT hybrids. The electromagnetic properties of the composites were tuned by varying the filler loading and Co:MWCNT ratio. The microstructure of the composites and electromagnetic absorption process were carefully characterized by transmission and scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, vibrating sample magnetometry, ferromagnetic resonance and vector network analysis. The electromagnetic wave absorbing properties of the nanocomposite were investigated in the 10 MHz−18 GHz frequency range revealing that the EMI absorption properties can be tuned by varying the Co:MWCNT weight ratio in the filler. Interestingly, the Co/MWCNT-PE composite with a total filler and Co loading of only 12 and 1.7 wt%, respectively, showed extremely high reflection loss (RL) of −55 dB. More importantly, an effective bandwidth of 12.8–17.8 GHz (RL below −10 dB) was achieved for a matching thickness of only 1.5 mm. The specific RL value (RL/filler loading) of the composite was superior in comparison with the previously reported nanostructured carbon materials. The highly effective absorbing properties of Co/MWCNT-PE composites are explained primarily by the unprecedented uniform filler distribution in the polyethylene as well as by the synergistic effect of MWCNTs and Co nanoparticles. This approach thus offered an effective strategy to design cost-effective, lightweight and flexible EMI shielding materials with tunable dielectric and magnetic performance.