Exfoliated Graphene Leads to Exceptional Mechanical Properties of Polymer Composite Films

Yunsong Pang, Junlong Yang, Tyler E. Curtis, Shirui Luo, Dezhao Huang, Zhe Feng, Jorge O. Morales-Ferreiro, Pitambar Sapkota, Fan Lei, Jianming Zhang, Qinnan Zhang, Eungkyu Lee, Yajiang Huang, Ruilan Guo, Sylwia Ptasinska, Ryan K. Roeder, Tengfei Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polymers with superior mechanical properties are desirable in many applications. In this work, polyethylene (PE) films reinforced with exfoliated thermally reduced graphene oxide (TrGO) fabricated using a roll-to-roll hot-drawing process are shown to have outstanding mechanical properties. The specific ultimate tensile strength and Young's modulus of PE/TrGO films increased monotonically with the drawing ratio and TrGO filler fraction, reaching up to 3.2 ± 0.5 and 109.3 ± 12.7 GPa, respectively, with a drawing ratio of 60× and a very low TrGO weight fraction of 1%. These values represent by far the highest reported to date for a polymer/graphene composite. Experimental characterizations indicate that as the polymer films are drawn, TrGO fillers are exfoliated, which is further confirmed by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Exfoliation increases the specific area of the TrGO fillers in contact with the PE matrix molecules. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the PE-TrGO interaction is stronger than the PE-PE intermolecular van der Waals interaction, which enhances load transfer from PE to TrGO and leverages the ultrahigh mechanical properties of TrGO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1106
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 26 2019


  • Graphene, polyethylene, nanocomposite, drawing ratio, mechanical strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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