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Keywords:

  • microstructure;
  • modeling;
  • nanocomposites;
  • particle size distribution;
  • structure-property relations

Abstract

A review of analytical modeling of particulate reinforcement is made as a prelude to the problem of microstructural inhomogeneity in nanocomposite materials. Noting the inevitability of dispersion nonuniformity, and variations in agglomerate morphology and filler-matrix interaction, the need to question the application of such models to novel materials arises. Employing the mechanical properties of alumina/epoxy nanocomposites, with known dispersion characteristics, an evaluation of the predictive capability of various models for Young's modulus, strength, and failure strain is made. Comparison between models is accompanied by a discussion of the parameters used in the fitting of macroscopic behavior to microstructural features. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 98: 869–879, 2005