Mechanical Characterization of Polymer Nanocomposites and the Role of Interphase
Ciprari, Daniel L.
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Mechanical characterization of four polymer nanocomposite systems and two pure polymer reference systems was performed. Alumina (Al2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles were embedded in poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and polystyrene (PS) matrices. Mechanical testing techniques utilized include tensile testing, dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), and nanoindentation. Consistent results from the three techniques proved that these nanocomposite systems exhibit worse mechanical properties than their respective pure polymer systems. The interphase, an interfacial area between the nanoparticle filler and the polymer matrix, was investigated using two approaches to explain the mechanical testing results. The first approach utilized data from thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to predict the structure and density of the interphase for the four nanocomposite systems. The second approach analyzed the bonding between the polymer and the nanoparticle surfaces using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) to calculate the density of the interphase for the two PMMA-based nanocomposite systems. Results from the two approaches were compared to previous studies. The results indicate that Al2O3 nanoparticles are more reactive with the polymer matrix than are Fe3O4 nanoparticles, but neither have strong interaction with the polymer matrix. The poor interaction leads to low density interphase which results in the poor mechanical properties.