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Nanoscale structural and mechanical characterization of polymer nanocomposites

X. Li, H. Gao, W.A. Scrivens, D. Fei, X. Xu, V. Thakur, M.A. Sutton, A.P. Reynolds and M.L. Myrick
University of South Carolina, US

Keywords:
nanoscale, structure, mechanical properties, polymer, composite

Abstract:
The extremely small dimensions of nanoscale reinforcements in polymer nanocomposites such as carbon nanotubes, nanoclays, and nanoparticles impose a great challenge for many exiting characterization techniques and instruments. To understand and establish the reinforcing mechanisms for polymer nanocomposites, the morphology, dispersion and orientation of the reinforcements as well as the bonding between the reinforcements and matrix need to be well characterized. The nanoscale structure of single-walled carbon nanotube-reinforced epoxy composites, nanoclay-reinforced agarose composites was studied by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microcopy (TEM). Their mechanical properties were measured by nanoindentation, nanoscratch, and tensile and bending tests. The reinforcing mechanisms are discussed in conjunction with their structure and mechanical properties such as hardness and elastic modulus.

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