Processing and characterization of high performance polyimide nanocomposites
Schlea, Michelle Renee
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The goal of this work was to achieve a homogeneous morphology of carbon nanotubes in a polyimide matrix, characterize the resulting nanocomposite properties, and understand structure-property relationships. Melt-mixing was used as an effective method for dispersing multiwall nanotubes and carbon nanofibers in a phenylethynyl terminated imide resin where aggregation occurred only in particle-saturated systems. Particle network formation within the nanocomposites was studied using rheology and impedance spectroscopy; results showed that the electrical percolation threshold occurred at a lower particle loading than the rheological percolation threshold, consistent with the oligomer size in comparison to the distance for electrical conductivity (~5 nm). Thermomechanical analysis showed that the addition of nanoparticles enhanced the polyimide storage modulus and thermal behavior indicated that the nanoparticles restricted polymer motion to higher temperatures. A study of the cure mechanism of the oligomer with and without nanoparticles showed that the nanoparticles reduced the activation energy required for cure initiation while increasing the obtainable extent of cure at various isothermal temperatures. The work presented in this dissertation shows that an easy, time effective processing method can be used to homogeneously disperse nanoparticles in an imide oligomer, and the resulting nanocomposites exhibit enhanced properties. A business plan is also presented that reflects the market potential of this technology.