Polymer, Vol.50, No.26, 6265-6273, 2009
Mild processing and characterization of silica epoxy hybrid nanocomposite
Previous research has shown that the inclusion of the spherical Silica (SiO2) nanoparticles into epoxy resin can achieve simultaneous improvement of fracture toughness and modulus. However, the glass transition temperature of the nanocomposite was significantly decreased when loading the nanosilica was higher than 5 wt.%. This perhaps was caused by utilization of the ultrasonication probe in the processing of these materials. In this paper, milder processing procedures were applied to make spherical silica epoxy nanocomposites while investigating if the homogeneous dispersion and morphology of the individual silica nanoparticle dispersed in the epoxy matrix could still be achieved. The results show that even at high loading of the silica nanoparticle, such as 30 wt.% silica, the perfect morphology of the nanocomposite could still be achieved with these milder processing conditions which indicates that ultrasonication is not needed. With the use of milder processing conditions, the glass transition temperature of the nanocomposite of 5 wt.% silica loading did not change, and the drop in the T-g was minimal for silica loading up to 15%, but some effects of self-polymerization of the epoxy were noted on T-g up to 30 wt.% loading of silica. Thermal analysis and flammability testing of the resulting materials Suggest that nanosilica has only an inert filler effect (dilution of fuel) on flammability reduction and char yield increase, not a synergistic decrease in heat release as is often observed for clays and carbon nanotubes/nanofibers. So the mild and easy processing procedure only achieved uniform nanoscale morphology with excellent dispersion in the final nanocomposite, but also the effect on the change in the T-g can be minimized as nanosilica loading was increased. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.