Adhesion and Interphase Properties of Reinforced Polymeric Composites
Caldwell, Kyle Bernd
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Reinforced polymeric composites are an increasingly utilized material with a wide range of applications. Fiber reinforced polymeric composites, in particular, possess impressive mechanical properties at a fraction of the weight of many other building materials. There will always, however, be a demand for producing lighter, stiffer, and stronger materials. Understanding the mechanism of adhesion and ways to engineer the reinforcement-matrix interphase can lead to the development of new materials with improved mechanical properties, and even impart additional functionality such as electrical conductivity. The performance of reinforced polymeric composites is critically dependent upon the adhesion between the reinforcement and the surrounding polymer. The relative adhesion between a filler and a thermoplastic matrix can be predicted using calculable thermodynamic quantities such as the Gibbs free energy of mixing. A recent model, COSMO-SAC, is capable of predicting the adhesion between organo-silane treated glass surfaces and several thermoplastic materials. COSMO-SAC uses information based on the charge distribution of a molecule’s surface to calculate many thermodynamic properties. Density functional theory calculations, which are relative inexpensive computations, generate the information necessary to perform the COSMO-SAC analysis and can be performed on any given molecule. The flexibility of the COSMO-SAC model is one of the main advantages it possesses over other methods for calculating thermodynamic quantities. In many cases the adhesion between a reinforcing fiber and the surrounding matrix may be improved by incorporating interphase modifiers in the vicinity of the fiber surface. The modifiers can improve the fracture toughness and modulus of the interphase, which may improve the stress transfer from the matrix to the fiber. In addition, the interphase modifiers may improve the mechanical interlock between the fiber surface and the bulk polymer, leading to improved adhesion. In recent years, the use of so called “migrating agents” have been used to self-assemble nanoparticle reinforced fiber-matrix interphases in thermosetting resin systems. The inclusion of a modest amount of thermoplastic migrating agent can lead to the formation of a self-assembled interphase, without causing aggregation of nanoparticles in the bulk phase. Formulations containing excess migrating agent, however, can induce aggregation in the bulk of increasing severity with increasing migrating agent concentration. Several techniques were used to study the mechanism by which the migrating agents operate including, scanning electron microscopy, and in situ fluorescence microscopy. The self-assembly mechanism by which migrating agents operate is described well by depletion forces, which are depend on the geometry of the approaching objects, as well as the migrating agent molecular weight and concentration.
- Chemical engineering