Open Access
Heidecker, Matthew J
Graduate Program:
Materials Science and Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 30, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Evangelos Manias, Committee Chair
  • Kwadwo Osseo Asare, Committee Member
  • Charles E Bakis, Committee Member
  • Ronald Hedden, Committee Member
  • James Patrick Runt, Committee Member
  • exfoliated
  • intercalated
  • composite
  • modulated DSC
  • crystallization
  • ductility
  • mechanical properties
  • PC
  • PET
  • non-compatibilized
  • compatibilized
  • high-peformance nanocomposites
  • polymer nanocomposites
  • polymer physics
  • high temperature surfactants
  • imidazolium
  • quaternary ammonium surfactants
  • melt-blending
  • injection molding
High-performance layered-silicate nanocomposites of Polycarbonate (PC), poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), and their blends were produced via conventional melt-blending techniques. The focus of this thesis was on the fundamentals of dispersion, control of thermal stability, maintenance of melt-blending processing conditions, and on optimization of the composites’ mechanical properties via the design of controlled and thermodynamically favorable nano-filler dispersions within the polymer matrices. PET and PC require high temperatures for melt-processing, rendering impractical the use of conventional/commercial organically-modified layered-silicates, since the thermal degradation temperatures of their ammonium surfactants lies below the typical processing temperatures. Thus, different surfactant chemistries must be employed in order to develop melt-processable nanocomposites, also accounting for polymer matrix degradation due to water (PET) or amine compounds (PC). Novel high thermal-stability surfactants were developed and employed in montmorillonite nanocomposites of PET, PC, and PC/PET blends, and were compared to the respective nanocomposites based on conventional quaternary-ammonium modified montmorillonites. Favorable dispersion was achieved in all cases, however, the overall material behavior –i.e., the combination of crystallization, mechanical properties, and thermal degradation– was better for the nanocomposites based on the thermally-stable surfactant fillers. Studies were also done to trace, and ultimately limit, the matrix degradation of Polycarbonate/montmorillonite nanocomposites, through varying the montmorillonite surfactant chemistry, processing conditions, and processing additives. Molecular weight degradation was, maybe surprisingly, better controlled in the conventional quaternary ammonium based nanocomposites –even though the thermal stability of the organically modified montmorillonites was in most cases the lowest. Dependence of the resultant nanocomposites’ mechanical properties on the preferential alignment of the montmorillonite nano-platelet was also evaluated. Highly aligned filler platelets did not result in an additional enhancement in mechanical properties. PC/PET blends and their respective PC/PET/montmorillonite nanocomposites were synthesized and compared. The dispersion of the organically modified nano-fillers in the PC/PET blends was controlled via thermodynamic considerations, realized through proper surfactant choice: Nanocomposites in which the layered silicate was preferentially sequestered in the PET phase were designed and synthesized. This preferential dispersion of the nano-filler in the PET phase of the PC/PET blend was insensitive to processing conditions, including approaches employing a master-batch (filler concentrate); regardless of the master-batch matrix, both PC and PET were employed, thermodynamics drove the layered silicate to preferentially migrate to the PET phase of the PC/PET blend. In a second approach, the development of a nanocomposite with controlled PC/PET compatibilization near the montmorillonite platelets, in absence of appreciable transesterification reactions, led to the formation of very high performance nanocomposites. These latter systems, point to an exciting new avenue of future considerations for nanocomposite blends with selective nano-filler dispersions, where performance can be tailored via the controlled preferential dispersion of nano-fillers in one phase, or by filler-induced polymer compatibilization.