Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor

Reza Shahbazian Yassar

Abstract

Cellulose-polymer composites have potential applications in aerospace and transportation areas where lightweight materials with high mechanical properties are needed. In addition, these economical and biodegradable composites have been shown to be useful as polymer electrolytes, packaging structures, optoelectronic devices, and medical implants such as wound dressing and bone scaffolds.

In spite of the above mentioned advantages and potential applications, due to the difficulties associated with synthesis and processing techniques, application of cellulose crystals (micro and nano sized) for preparation of new composite systems is limited. Cellulose is hydrophilic and polar as opposed to most of common thermoplastics, which are non-polar. This results in complications in addition of cellulose crystals to polymer matrices, and as a result in achieving sufficient dispersion levels, which directly affects the mechanical properties of the composites.

As in other composite materials, the properties of cellulose-polymer composites depend on the volume fraction and the properties of individual phases (the reinforcement and the polymer matrix), the dispersion quality of the reinforcement through the matrix and the interaction between CNCs themselves and CNC and the matrix (interphase). In order to develop economical cellulose-polymer composites with superior qualities, the properties of individual cellulose crystals, as well as the effect of dispersion of reinforcements and the interphase on the properties of the final composites should be understood.

In this research, the mechanical properties of CNC polymer composites were characterized at the macro and nano scales. A direct correlation was made between:

  • Dispersion quality and macro-mechanical properties
  • Nanomechanical properties at the surface and tensile properties
  • CNC diameter and interphase thickness

Lastly, individual CNCs from different sources were characterized and for the first time size-scale effect on their nanomechanical properties were reported. Then the effect of CNC surface modification on the mechanical properties was studied and correlated to the crystalline structure of these materials.

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