In fabrication of nanoparticle-reinforced polymers, two critical factors need to be taken into account to control properties of the final product; nanoparticle dispersion/distribution in the matrix; and interfacial interactions between nanoparticles and their surrounding matrix. The focus of this thesis was to examine the role of these two factors through experimental methodologies and molecular-level simulations. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and vinyl ester (VE) resin were used as nanoparticles and matrix, respectively.
In a parametric study, a series of CNT/VE nanocomposites with different CNT dispersion conditions were fabricated using the ultrasonication mixing method. Thermomechanical properties of nanocomposites and quality of CNT dispersion were evaluated. By correlation between nanocomposite behavior and CNT dispersion, a thermomechanical model was suggested; at a certain threshold level of sonication energy, CNT dispersion would be optimal and result in maximum enhancement in properties. This threshold energy level is also related to particle concentration. Sonication above this threshold level, leads to destruction of nanotubes and renders a negative effect on the properties of nanocomposites.
In an attempt to examine the interface condition, a novel process was developed to modify CNT surface with polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS). In this process, a chemical reaction was allowed to occur between CNTs and POSS in the presence of an effective catalyst. The functionalized CNTs were characterized using TEM, SEM-EDS, AFM, TGA, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy techniques. Formation of amide bonds between POSS and nanotubes was established and verified. Surface modification of CNTs with POSS resulted in significant improvement in nanotube dispersion. In-depth SEM analysis revealed formation of a 3D network of well-dispersed CNTs with POSS connections to the polymer. In parallel, molecular dynamics simulation of CNT-POSS/VE system showed an effective load transfer from polymer chains to the CNT due to POSS linkages at the interface. The rigid and flexible network of CNTs is found to be responsible for enhancement in elastic modulus, strength, fracture toughness and glass transition temperature (Tg) of the final nanocomposites.
|School:||Florida Atlantic University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-B 78/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mechanical engineering, Nanotechnology, Materials science|
|Keywords:||Carbon nanotube, Dispersion, Nanocomposite, Nanohybrids, Polymer, Surface functionalization|
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