Deliberately controlled interfacial interactions between incorporated nanofiller particles and host polymer backbone chains constitute a critical element in the realm of polymer nanocomposites with tailorable multifunctional properties. We demonstrate the physicochemical effects induced by graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) of different sizes on the condensation polymerization reaction of aromatic thermosetting copolyester (ATSP) through the formation of electrically conductive percolating networks as enabled by interfacial interactions. Carboxylic acid and acetoxy-capped precursor oligomers of ATSP are solid-state mixed with chemically pristine GNP particles at various loading levels. Upon in situ endothermic condensation polymerization reaction, crosslinked backbone of the ATSP foam matrix is formed while the carbonaceous nanofillers are incorporated into the polymer network via covalent conjugation with functional end-groups of the oligomers. The controlled GNP size promotes different electrical percolation thresholds and ultimate electrical conductivities. Microstructural analysis demonstrates GNP distributions in the matrix as well as morphological modifications induced by the formation of conductive percolating GNP networks. Cure characteristics reveal the thermochemical changes prompted in the polymerization processes for GNP content above the requirement for percolation formation. Chemical spectroscopy of the ATSP nanocomposite morphology exhibits the formation of a robust interfacial coupling mechanism between the GNPs and ATSP backbone. The findings here may guide the developmental efforts of nanocomposites through better identifying roles of the morphology and content of nanofillers in polymerization processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)