Nanotech 2010

Enhancing Strength, Modulus and Fracture Toughness of Syntactic Foam through Nanoparticle Reinforcement

H. Mahfuz, D. Das, R. Granata
Florida Atlantic University, US

Keywords: syntactic foam, SiC nanoparticles, fracture toughness, compression, flexure, tension


A novel nanophased syntactic foam has been developed by dispersing SiC nanoparticles into the polymeric precursor. The resin in this investigation was vinylester and the microballoons were glass borosilicate microspheres. Loading of nanoparticles into the resin was 1.0 wt% while that of glass microspheres was 30%. SiC nanoparticles were first sonicated into a mixture of vinylester and styrene, microspheres were then mechanically mixed with the resin, and the admixture was cast into metal molds for cure. Styrene was used as a dilutant to increase the loading of microspheres to 30%. The resulting syntactic foam had a density of 0.462 g/cc comparable to those available commercially. Extensive mechanical, fracture characterization followed. Compression tests of foam specimens revealed that both strength and modulus increased by 33% due to nanoparticle inclusion. Flexural tests also demonstrated significant improvement in both strength and modulus by 35% and 16%, respectively. Tensile tests revealed somewhat different results; there was substantial improvement (25%) in strength but with a considerable loss in modulus (23%). This was compensated by a 24% increase in fracture strain which resulted in 50% improvement in modulus of toughness. Stress intensity factor, KIC, and strain energy release rate, GIC were also determined using SENB experiments. Results showed that there was an improvement of 11% in KIC and 49% in GIC.
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