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Controlled Structure Evolution of Graphene Networks in Polymer Composites

Boothroyd, Stephen C.; Johnson, David W.; Weir, Michael P.; Reynolds, Carl D.; Hart, James M.; Smith, Andrew J.; Clarke, Nigel; Thompson, Richard L.; Coleman, Karl S.

Controlled Structure Evolution of Graphene Networks in Polymer Composites Thumbnail


Stephen C. Boothroyd

David W. Johnson

Michael P. Weir

Carl D. Reynolds

James M. Hart

Andrew J. Smith

Nigel Clarke


Exploiting graphene’s exceptional physical properties in polymer composites is a significant challenge because of the difficulty in controlling the graphene conformation and dispersion. Reliable processing of graphene polymer composites with uniform and consistent properties can therefore be difficult to achieve. We demonstrate distinctive regimes in morphology and nanocomposite properties, achievable through systematic control of shear rate and shear history. Remarkable changes in electrical impedance unique to composites of graphene nanoplates (GNPs) are observed. Low shear rates ≤ 0.1 s-1 break up the typical GNP agglomerates found in graphene composites, exfoliate the GNPs to fewer graphene layers and reduce orientation, enhancing electrical conductivi-ty in the composite materials. Whereas, at higher shear rates GNP orientation increases and the conductivity reduces by four orders of magnitude, as the graphene filler network is broken down. The structure of the composite continues to evolve, reflected in fur-ther changes in conductivity, after the shear force has been removed and the process temperature maintained. This work provides critical insights for understanding and controlling GNP orientation and dispersion within composites and will have important consequences in the industrial processing of graphene polymer composites via the informed design and choice of processing conditions.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 14, 2018
Publication Date Mar 13, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 15, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 16, 2018
Journal Chemistry of Materials
Print ISSN 0897-4756
Electronic ISSN 1520-5002
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 5
Pages 1524-1531
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (926 Kb)

Copyright Statement
ACS AuthorChoice - This is an open access article published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the author and source are cited.

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