BACKGROUND: Functionalized graphene sheet (FGS) was recently introduced as a new nano-sized conductive filler, but little work has yet examined the possibility of using FGS as a nanofiller in the preparation of polymer nanocomposites. In particular, there are currently no published papers that evaluate polyurethane/FGS nanocomposites. The purpose of this study was to prepare a polyurethane/FGS nanocomposite and examine the morphological and physical properties of the material.
RESULTS: A cast nanocomposite film was prepared from a mixture of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) solution and FGS suspended in methyl ethyl ketone. The FGS dispersed on the nanoscale throughout the TPU matrix and effectively enhanced the conductivity. A nanocomposite containing 2 parts of FGS per 100 parts of TPU had an electrical conductivity of 10−4 S cm−1, a 107 times increase over that of pristine TPU. The dynamic mechanical properties showed that the FGS efficiently reinforced the TPU matrix, particularly in the temperature region above the soft segment melt.
CONCLUSION: Our results show that FGS has a high affinity for TPU, and it could therefore be used effectively in the preparation of TPU/FGS nanocomposites without any further chemical surface treatment. This indicates that FGS is an effective and convenient new material that could be used for the modification of polyurethane. It could also be used in place of other nano-sized conductive fillers, such as carbon nanotubes. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry