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Challenges, Strategies and Opportunities for Measuring Carbon Nanotubes within a Polymer Composites by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy



Justin M. Gorham, Jeremiah W. Woodcock, Keana C. Scott


FOREWORD This NIST Special Publication (SP) is one in a series of NIST SPs that address research needs articulated in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy published in 2011 [1]. This Strategy identified a Nanomaterial Measurement Infrastructure (NMI) as essential for science-based risk assessment and risk management of nanotechnology-enabled products as pertaining to human health, exposure, and the environment. NIST was identified as the lead federal agency in the NMI core research area of the Strategy. This research area includes development of measurement tools for the detection and characterization of engineered nanomaterials in nanotechnology-enabled products. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in commercial products, the focus for this special publication, were one of the nanomaterials identified in the Nano-EHS research strategy. This SP presents some challenges and strategies for the characterization of CNT-polymer composite systems by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). This SP outlines surface preparations and identifies hurdles associated with the measurement of polymer composites, and provides some solutions towards gaining qualitative to semi-quantitative XPS, depending on the scenario. The authors do not claim that (A) this is an exhaustive list of all challenges associated with XPS measurements of composites or (B) there are no other acceptable solutions to some of the noted challenges. Updates to this protocol may be released in the future. Visit to check for revisions of this protocol, or new protocols in the series. We also encourage users to report citations to published work in which this protocol has been applied.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1200-10
Report Number


Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes, MWCNT, XPS, Composites, NanoEHS, characterization


Gorham, J. , Woodcock, J. and Scott, K. (2015), Challenges, Strategies and Opportunities for Measuring Carbon Nanotubes within a Polymer Composites by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created March 14, 2015, Updated November 10, 2018