Rheological and dynamic-mechanical behavior of carbon nanotube/vinyl ester-polyester suspensions and their nanocomposites
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Rheological properties of vinyl ester-polyester resin suspensions containing various amounts (0.05, 0.1 and 0.3 wt.%) of multi walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) with and without amine functional groups (-NH2) were investigated by utilization of oscillatory rheometer with parallel plate geometry. Dispersion of corresponding carbon nanotubes within the resin blend was accomplished employing high shear mixing technique (3-roll milling). Based on the dynamic viscoelastic measurements, it was observed that at 0.3 wt.% of CNT loadings, storage modulus (G′) values of suspensions containing MWCNTs and MWCNT-NH2 exhibited frequency-independent pseudo solid like behavior especially at lower frequencies. Moreover, the loss modulus (G″) values of the resin suspensions with respect to frequency were observed to increase with an increase in contents of CNTs within the resin blend. In addition, steady shear viscosity measurements implied that at each given loading rate, the resin suspensions demonstrated shear thinning behavior regardless of amine functional groups, while the neat resin blend was almost the Newtonian fluid. Furthermore, dynamic mechanical behavior of the nanocomposites achieved by polymerizing the resin blend suspensions with MWCNTs and MWCNT-NH2 was investigated through dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer (DMTA). It was revealed that storage modulus (E′) and the loss modulus (E″) values of the resulting nanocomposites increased with regard to carbon nanotubes incorporated into the resin blend. In addition, at each given loading rate, nanocomposites containing MWCNT-NH2 possessed larger loss and storage modulus values as well as higher glass transition temperatures (Tg) as compared to those with MWCNTs. These findings were attributed to evidences for contribution of amine functional groups to chemical interactions at the interface between CNTs and the resin blend matrix. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies performed on the cured resin samples approved that the dispersion state of carbon nanotubes with and without amine functional groups within the matrix resin blend was adequate. This implies that 3-roll milling process described herein is very appropriate technique for blending of carbon nanotubes with a liquid thermoset resin to manufacture nanocomposites with enhanced final properties.