Since the late 1990’s, research has been underway in our group at Michigan State University to investigate the fabrication of new nano-size carbon material, exfoliate graphite nanoplatelets [xGnP]. The xGnP is fabricated from natural graphite and can be used as a nanoreinforcement for polymers as an alternative to expensive carbon-based nanomaterials. The thickness of the xGnP became around 5-10nm. The diameter can be controlled from sub-micron level to few hundred um, indication the aspect ratio can be controlled. The surface area of the material reached more than 100m2/g. Since graphite is the stiffest material found in nature (Young’s Modulus = 1060 MPa), having a modulus several times that of clay, accompanied with excellent strength, electrical and thermal conductivity, the xGnP should have similar properties to carbon-based nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, nanofibers, and fullerenes, yet the estimated cost is fur less than these materials. The cost of the graphite nanoplatelets was estimated to be $5/lb or less, which makes the material highly cost effective.
One of the biggest problems found in nanocomposite research area is the dispersion of the nano-fillers in polymer matrix systems. Since many carbon-based materials have very stable chemical and physical structure, it is often very difficult to introduce appropriate functional groups on their surfaces to improve the dispersion in a polymer matrix, leading poor composite properties.
In this research, many surface treatments have been applied and variety of functional groups have been introduced on the surface of xGnP. XPS investigation revealed the amount and type of the functional groups can be controlled, indicating the surface condition of the xGnP can be optimized to many polymer systems.
Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 1, Technical Proceedings of the 2006 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Volume 1
Published: May 7, 2006
Pages: 76 - 78
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing