Controlled self-assembly of ito nanoparticles into aggregate wire structures in pmma-ito nanocomposites
Capozzi, Charles J.
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For polymer-matrix composites (PMCs) that contain insulating matrices and conducting fillers, the electrical properties of the PMCs are especially sensitive to the local concentration of the fillers in the matrix. For PMCs that have phase-segregated microstructures, better prediction of the properties is possible since enhanced control over the distribution of the filler in the matrix can be achieved. In this research, PMMA-ITO nanocomposites were chosen as the composite system in which to explore alternative microstructures, specifically highly phase-segregated microstructures. The microstructures were primarily controlled by varying the ITO particle size and concentration, and the fabrication parameters used to form the nanocomposites. The motivation for this research was to develop correlations between the microstructure and non-destructive measurements in order to improve the predictability of properties in percolating PMCs. As a result of this work, a novel phase-segregated microstructure was discovered, where ITO aggregate-wire structures self-assembled during the composite forming process. Structural analysis of the specimens was conducted primarily using transmission optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Impedance spectroscopy and optical spectroscopy were the primary NDE characterization tools used for analyzing the variations among the specimens. Ultra-small angle x-ray scattering (USAXS) and stereological techniques were also used to describe the dimensions of the ITO aggregate-wire structures that self-assembled in the PMMA-ITO nanocomposites.