Nanoparticle dispersion is widely recognised as a challenge in polymer nanocomposites fabrication. The dispersion quality can affect the physical and thermomechanical properties of the material system. Qualitative transmission electronic microscopy, often cumbersome, remains as the ‘gold standard’ for dispersion characterisation. However, quantifying dispersion at macroscopic level remains a difficult task. This paper presents a quantitative dispersion characterisation method using non-contact infrared thermography mapping that measures the thermal diffusivity (α) of the graphene nanocomposite and relates α to a dispersion index. The main advantage of the proposed method is its ability to evaluate dispersion over a large area at reduced effort and cost, in addition to measuring the thermal properties of the system. The actual resolution of this thermal mapping reaches 200 μm per pixel giving an accurate picture of graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) dispersion. The post-dispersion treatment shows an improvement in directional thermal conductivity of the composite of up to 400% increase at 5 wt% of GNP. The Maxwell-Garnet effective medium approximation is proposed to estimate thermal conductivity that compare favourably to measured data. The development of a broadly applicable dispersion quantification method will provide a better understanding of reinforcement mechanisms and effect on performance of large scale composite structures.
- Thermal conductivity
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- National Graphene Institute