Nano-particulate dispersion and reinforcement of nanostructured composite materials
This research investigated the feasibility of reinforcing polymer composites using 30 nm SiC nanoparticles in a vinyl ester resin. The SiC nanoparticles were examined using transmission electron microscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. Gamma-methacryloxy propyl trimethoxy silane (MPS) was chosen as the coupling agent. Both mixing procedures with (1) the nanoparticles pretreated with a dilute MPS solution in an acid 5% (v/v) water-ethanol mixture and (2) the MPS sonicated as an integral blend with the filled vinyl ester, were attempted. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was used to study the silanol condensation between MPS and the SiC nanoparticles. The results show that ultrasonic mixing did not fully disperse the particles. Hence the composite strength did not improve although the modulus increased. The use of MPS improved the dispersion quality and hence the composite strength.
The rheological behavior of SiC nanoparticle-filled vinyl ester resin systems was evaluated in terms of the Bingham, power law, Herschel-Bulkley, and Casson models. Even when the particle loading was less then 4% by weight, the viscosity of the nanoparticle suspension was found to increase much more than that of a microparticle suspension. This phenomenon may be the result of association between nanoparticles and polymer molecules, effectively making the nanoparticles larger. The resulting reduction in the mobility of polymer molecules also led to delayed curing. The maximum particle loading corresponding to infinite viscosity was determined as 0.1 volume fraction using the (1 − η r−1/2) − &phis; dependence. The experimental optimum fractional weight per cent of the dispersants (wt. % dispersant/wt. % SiC) was found to be around 40% for 30 nm SiC nanoparticles, which is in close agreement with the theoretically calculated monolayer coverage dosage of 67%.