Revealing the reinforcing effect of a nanorod network on a polymer matrix through molecular dynamics simulations

X Li and B Huang and J Liu and XX Hu and ZJ Zheng, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 25, 18757-18765 (2023).

DOI: 10.1039/d3cp01437a

Controlling the spatial morphology of the nanorods (NRs) in a polymer matrix and understanding the structure-property relationship are crucial for fabricating high-performance polymer nanocomposites (PNCs). By employing molecular dynamics simulations, we systematically studied the structural and mechanical properties of NR filled PNCs. The simulated results showed that the NRs gradually self-assembled into a three- dimensional (3D) network upon increasing the NR-NR interaction strength. The generated 3D NR network transferred loads along the NR backbone, differing from the well dispersed system which transfers loads between NRs and nearby polymer chains. Increase of the nanorod diameter or NR content further enhanced the PNCs by improving the NR network integrity. These findings provide insights into the reinforcement mechanism of NRs toward polymer matrices and provide guidance for designing PNCs with excellent mechanical performance.

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