Effects of Rod-like Particles on the Microstructure and Strength of Porous Silica Nanoparticle Composites

Authors

  • Wenle Li,

    1. Materials Science and Engineering Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
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  • Kathy Lu,

    Corresponding author
    • Materials Science and Engineering Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
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    • Member, The American Ceramic Society
  • John Y. Walz,

    1. Chemical Engineering Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
    Current affiliation:
    1. University of Kentucky, College of Engineering, Lexington, KY
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  • Margaret Anderson

    1. Materials Science and Engineering Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. e-mail: klu@vt.edu

Abstract

This study describes the results of an investigation into the effects of the addition of rod-like silica nanoparticles on the properties of freeze-cast and sintered bodies formed from silica nanospheres. Rod-like silica particles with ∼220 nm diameter and tunable aspect ratio from ∼1 to ∼12 (length/diameter) were prepared and added to aqueous suspensions containing 22 nm spherical silica particles. After freeze casting, porous composites were created with all suspensions, which is shown to be consistent with the results of a simple analysis in which the experimental freezing rate is compared with the critical rate at which the dispersed particles can no longer be expelled from the growing ice front. The composites have elongated spherical pores, and the pore size changes slightly with increasing aspect ratio of the nanorods. Finally, it was found that the rod-like particles improve the flexural strength of the composites at both green and sintered states and this strengthening effect intensifies with increasing aspect ratio. This study provides a strategy for fabricating porous materials of improved properties and performance without compromising the porosity or changing the material composition.

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