A simple approach to fabricate silicon carbide (SiC) whisker is reported via using cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) as templates. The CNC with a length between 2 and 4 μm and a width about 40 nm is prepared by hydrolysis of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) in strong sulfuric acid condition. The sol–gel reaction of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) is employed to coat the CNC in the presence of acetic acid as acid catalyst. The SiC whisker is obtained by calcination of CNC/SiO2 hybrid at 1200°C. The obtained SiC whisker is found to have uniform size and shape with a length of ca. 2–4 μm and a width of 40 ± 5 nm. XRD, SEM, TEM (HRTEM), SAED, EDX and FTIR are used to characterize the samples. The obtained SiC whisker is used in polystyrene (PS) resin toughened. And mechanical properties of SiC/PS composites are tested by tensile impact experiments. The test results show that the 5 wt. % SiC whisker particles can disperse homogeneously in the PS resins which use a silane coupling agent (KF9701) as compatibilizer. Our results also show that the SiC whisker is excellent reinforcing material, which the tensile strength of SiC/PS composites attains 110 MPa and the Izod notched impact strength attains 5.00 KJ/m2. Comparing the pure PS resin, the tensile impact of SiC(5)/PS(94.5)/KF9701(0.5) composites can be increased by about 3 times and the Izod notched impact strength can be increased about 8 times. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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