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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #312641

Title: Functionalized graphene with polymer toughener as novel interface modifier for property-tailored poly(lactic acid)/graphene nanocomposites

item FU, YU - Washington State University
item Liu, Linshu
item ZHANG, JINWEN - Washington State University
item HISCOX, W - Washington State University

Submitted to: Polymers
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/4/2014
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Fu, Y., Liu, L.S., Zhang, J., Hiscox, W.C. 2014. Functionalized graphene with polymer toughener as novel interface modifier for property-tailored poly(lactic acid)/graphene nanocomposites. Polymers. 55:6381-6389. DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2014.10.014.

Interpretive Summary: Biodegradable and electrically conductive plastics can be produced by compounding polylactic acid (PLA), a biopolymer from renewable feedstocks, with graphene, a thin sheet of pure carbon, using a twin-screw extruder. However, the plastics thus obtained are mechanically weak, which limits their applications in the manufacturing industries. To circumvent this problem, we changed the function of the graphene sheets and added a chemical modifier to improve the adhesion with the PLA. The modifications improved the distribution of graphene throughout the PLA matrix and resulted in new plastics possessing improved toughness and stiffness. The research will help expand the use of PLA in plastic products.

Technical Abstract: In this work, an effective strategy for engineering the interfacial compatibility between graphene and polylactic acid (PLA) was developed by manipulating the functionalization of graphene and introducing an epoxy-containing elastomer modifier. Curing between the functional groups of the modified graphene and the epoxy groups of the elastomer modifier resulted in controlled dispersion and distribution of graphene in the composite system and hence improved the interfacial adhesion between PLA and graphene. Effects of different graphene functionalization with polymer toughener on morphology, viscoelasticity, and thermal properties of the resulting PLA nanocomposites were thoroughly examined. The resulting percolated structures were the origin of the improved properties of PLA/graphene nanocomposites. The mechanism on property tailoring from interface engineering through dual modifiers is also proposed. Overall, the insight into the interface engineering between the functionalized graphene and the matrix through an elastomer modifier offers a novel way for the future design of graphene polymer nanocomposites.