Mesoscopic Modeling and Experimental Validation of Thermal and Mechanical Properties of Polypropylene Nanocomposites Reinforced By Graphene-Based Fillers

A Muhammad and R Srivastava and N Koutroumanis and D Semitekolos and E Chiavazzo and PN Pappas and C Galiotis and P Asinari and CA Charitidis and M Fasano, MACROMOLECULES, 56, 9969-9982 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.3c01529

The development of nanocomposites relies on structure-property relations, which necessitate multiscale modeling approaches. This study presents a modeling framework that exploits mesoscopic models to predict the thermal and mechanical properties of nanocomposites starting from their molecular structure. In detail, mesoscopic models of polypropylene (PP)- and graphene-based nanofillers (graphene (Gr), graphene oxide (GO), and reduced graphene oxide (rGO)) are considered. The newly developed mesoscopic model for the PP/Gr nanocomposite provides mechanistic information on the thermal and mechanical properties at the filler-matrix interface, which can then be exploited to enhance the prediction accuracy of traditional continuum simulations by calibrating the thermal and mechanical properties of the filler-matrix interface. Once validated through a dedicated experimental campaign, this multiscale model demonstrates that with the modest addition of nanofillers (up to 2 wt %), the Young's modulus and thermal conductivity show up to 35 and 25% enhancement, respectively, whereas the Poisson's ratio slightly decreases. Among the different combinations tested, the PP/Gr nanocomposite shows the best mechanical properties, whereas PP/rGO demonstrates the best thermal conductivity. This validated mesoscopic model can contribute to the development of smart materials with enhanced mechanical and thermal properties based on polypropylene, especially for mechanical, energy storage, and sensing applications.

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