Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


Julia Ann King


Polymers are typically electrically and thermally insulating materials. The electrical and thermal conductivities of polymers can be increased by the addition conductive fillers such as carbons. Once the polymer composites have been made electrically and thermally conductive, they can be used in applications where these conductivities are desired such as electromagnetic shielding and static dissipation.

In this project, three carbon nanomaterials are added to polycarbonate to enhance the electrical and thermal conductivity of the resulting composite. Hyperion Catalysis FIBRILs carbon nanotubes were added to a maximum loading of 8 wt%. Ketjenblack EC-600 JD carbon black was added to a maximum loading of 10 wt%. XG Sciences xGnP™ graphene nanoplatelets were added to a maximum loading of 15 wt%. These three materials have drastically different morphologies and will have varying effects on the various properties of polycarbonate composites.

It was determined that carbon nanotubes have the largest effect on electrical conductivity with an 8 wt% carbon nanotube in polycarbonate composite having an electrical conductivity of 0.128 S/cm (from a pure polycarbonate value of 10-17 S/cm). Carbon black has the next largest effect with an 8 wt% carbon black in polycarbonate composite having an electrical conductivity of 0.008 S/cm. Graphene nanoplatelets have the least effect with an 8 wt% graphene nanoplatelet in polycarbonate having an electrical conductivity of 2.53 x 10-8 S/cm.

Graphene nanoplatelets show a significantly higher effect on increasing thermal conductivity than either carbon nanotubes or carbon black. Mechanically, all three materials have similar effects with graphene nanoplatelets being somewhat more effective at increasing the tensile modulus of the composite than the other fillers.

Carbon black and graphene nanoplatelets show standard carbon-filler rheology where the addition of filler increases the viscosity of the resulting composite. Carbon nanotubes, on the other hand, show an unexpected rheology. As carbon nanotubes are added to polycarbonate the viscosity of the composite is reduced below that of the original polycarbonate. It was seen that the addition of carbon nanotubes offsets the increased viscosity from a second filler, such as carbon black or graphene nanoplatelets.