Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


A Study of Global vs. Local Properties for Maleic Anhydride Modified Polypropylene Nanocomposites

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Nanoindentation of organomodified clay filled maleated polypropylene (MAPP) was investigated. The study aims to identify the relative increase in local stiffness in comparison to the increase in mechanical properties of the bulk in polypropylene-based nanocomposites. Such a study allows one to assess confined material property in addition to increased filler volume at the local scale. A mixture of highly intercalated and well exfoliated clay structures, when dispersed in MAPP matrix, was observed under transmission electron microscopy. The degree of exfoliation was found to increase with clay loading, which was attributed to the higher viscosity and mechanical shear forces during melt compounding. Instrumented indentation was performed on (1) clay aggregate supported by MAPP matrix, (2) clay–matrix boundary, and (3) the MAPP matrix. The clay aggregated region generally showed higher stiffness as compared to the matrix. And, the relative increase in indentation stiffness is substantially higher than the relative increase in tensile and compressive stiffnesses for clay reinforced systems. Polymer chain confinement and topological constraint appeared to be operative to enhance local stiffness in the clay aggregated region. Good correlation was, however, obtained between the change in macroscopic stiffness and the change in highly local indentation stiffness as a result of clay reinforcement.

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