The research investigated the thermal and mechanical properties of graphene/epoxy nanocomposites. Pristine graphene and functionalized graphene were used as nano-reinforcement in the nanocomposites. The graphene loadings employed in the nanocomposites were 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 1.0 wt%. The functional groups grafted on the functionalized graphene were characterized through Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Results indicated that two kinds of functional groups are grafted on the functionalized graphene surfaces: one contains only COOH group and the other contains both COOH and NH2 groups. Moreover, from mechanical and thermal testing, it was found that the nanocomposites with functionalized graphene demonstrate better mechanical and thermal properties than those with pristine graphene. The graphene containing NH2 and COOH functional groups exhibits superior mechanical and thermal properties than the graphene with only COOH functional group. In addition, Young's modulus and thermal conductivity of the nanocomposites increase as the graphene loading increases. However, the fracture toughness and tensile strength of the nanocomposites attain peak values when the functionalized graphene loading is 0.1 wt%. The effects of the functional groups on the mechanical and thermal properties of nanocomposites were elaborated using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. It was revealed that the interfacial thermal conductance and normalized interaction energy increase between the functionalized graphene and epoxy matrix, which may be responsible for the enhanced mechanical properties in the functionalized graphene/epoxy nanocomposites.
- Functionalized graphene
- mechanical properties
- molecular dynamics simulation