Preparation and characterization of polyolefin / nanosilica composites
Bailly, Mathieu Roger Marcel
MetadataShow full item record
Polypropylene (PP) and ethylene-co-octene copolymer (EOC) blends were prepared at various component ratios and reinforced with silica nanoparticles (SiO2). Strategies to improve filler dispersion involved the grafting of a silane coupling agent on the PP matrix, the addition of a maleated PP (PP-g-MA) as a compatibilizer and the use of hydrophobic silica nanoparticles. These approaches resulted in a fine dispersion of the nanoparticles within the PP phase and induced a reduction of the size of the EOC domains, due to a barrier effect. Tensile and flexural properties were significantly increased, whereas ductility and impact properties were not affected. These enhancements are attributed to the favourable microstructure of the blends, featuring a segregated microstructure, and to the improved interfacial adhesion between the functionalized polymer matrix and the surface of the nanoparticles. The microstructure and rheology of model melt compounded EOC-based nanocomposites were investigated. Functionalization of the polyolefin matrix was accomplished through silane grafting, or addition of a maleated EOC (EOC-g-MA) compatibilizer. Various grades of unmodified SiO2 having different specific surface areas (SSA), as well as a surface-modified grade were added to the EOC matrix at various loadings. The formation of covalent and hydrogen bonds between the silanol groups and the functionalized polymer generated strong polymer/filler (P/F) interactions, resulting in improved filler dispersion. Bound polymer characterization revealed that in the compatibilized materials, the amount of polymer physically attached to the nanoparticles was higher than in the non-compatibilized samples. In the absence of a compatibilizer, larger SiO2 aggregates formed upon increasing SSA because of increased probability of hydrogen bonding between the particles. The increased propensity for aggregation was revealed by time sweeps as well as by the increased strain sensitivity in stress sweeps. On the contrary, the compatibilized composites exhibited a stable response and a higher critical strain for the onset of non-linearity, indicative of stronger adhesion between the fillers and the matrix. Superposition of oscillatory and creep/recovery experiments revealed that the viscoelastic properties in the terminal region were influenced substantially by the state of dispersion of the nanoparticles. In the absence of a compatibilizer, substantial enhancements in the linear viscoelastic (LVE) functions were noted and an increasing SSA resulted in more significant deviations from terminal flow. On the contrary, the SSA of the particles had no effect on the viscoelastic and mechanical properties of the compatibilized composites.