Recommended Results

Studying the Internal Structure of Carbon Nanotubes with SAXS

A polymer/multi-walled carbon nanotubes composite was measured with the SAXSpace system. The internal structure of the nanotubes was determined by calculating the electron density profile of the nanotube’s cross-section.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Composite materials containing CNTs exhibit interesting and novel properties which make them potentially useful in many fields, such as materials science, electronics, optics and others.

Small-angle X-ray scattering is sensitive to electron density variations in a material. Therefore, the internal structure of CNTs can be determined by calculating the electron-density profile of the cross-section.

Experimental and Results

A composite material consisting of multi-walled carbon nanotubes dispersed in a thermoplastic elastomer (urethane based) was measured with the SAXSpace system.

After subtracting the polymer scattering from the  total signal, the scattering of the CNTs was obtained (Figure 1).

Fig. 1 Background-subtracted scattering curve

Their pair-distance distribution function (PDDF) was calculated by Indirect Fourier Transformation (IFT)1. This function was then converted ("deconvoluted")1 into the radial electron- density profile (Figure 2) using program DECON1.

Fig. 2 Radial electron density profile

The radial electron-density profile can be used to visualize the internal structure of the CNTs as shown in the scheme below:

1    O. Glatter, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 18 (2006) 2403

Learn more about the SAXSpace System