Single wall carbon nanotubes as viscosity modifiers in polypropylene matrix nanocomposites
Simien, Daneesh Olivia
Barrera, Enrique V.
Doctor of Philosophy
Single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were studied as low shear rate viscosity modifiers in the polypropylene matrix of nanocomposites. To create nanocomposites which did not demonstrate increased low shear rate viscosity when nanotubes were added into the polymer melt, this work focused on modifying the sidewall profile of the SWNTs and manipulating their configuration in the polymer matrix before subjecting them to rheological testing. Fluorinated single-walled nanotubes (F-SWNTs) played a critical part in evaluating how functionalizations could affect the viscosity of the polymer melt. Fibers made from weight percents ranging from 2.5wt% to 10wt% of F-SWNTs in isotactic polypropylene, with Mw = 250,000 g/mol (iPP250,000), were shown to have lower complex viscosity profiles than the neat iPP250,000 sample at low shear rates. These fibers demonstrated decreases in the complex viscosities, in the low frequency range, of 36.5%, 27.8% and 37.5%, for the 2.5wt.%, 5wt.% and 10wt.% fiber samples respectively. F-SWNTs were shown to stimulate in situ initiated reactions in the polymer melt where free radials generated, as a result of spontaneously dissociated fluorine atoms which scavenge hydrogen from the surrounding polymer chains, facilitate the covalent bonding of nanotubes directly to the polypropylene chains. These covalently bonded nanotubes were then forced to align themselves, along with the polymer chains when the bulk composite is spun into a small diameter fiber (dia.130mum). Another method used to create low shear rate viscosity nanocomposites was to capitalize on the low viscosity properties of low molecular weight isotactic polypropylene (Mw = 12,000g/mol) by creating a hybrid nanocomposite system in the iPP250,000 matrix. In these systems, benzoyl peroxide was used as the free radical initiator which could facilitate the covalent bonding of single walled nanotubes to the polymer chains in the melt. Both non-functionalized and functionalized hybrid nanocomposites were evaluated for their rheological properties; and for equivalent weight percents of nanotubes incorporated, the hybrid nanocomposites which were functionalized, using benzoyl peroxide as the initiator, demonstrated lower complex viscosities profiles. A maximum decrease of 54% was observed, at low frequency, for a 0.1wt% non-functionalized hybrid sample compared to its functionalized counterpart.
Engineering; Materials science