Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Igor Luzinov, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Olin Mefford

Committee Member

Dr. Marian Kennedy

Committee Member

Dr. Christopher Kitchens


Nanoscale fillers can significantly enhance the performance of composites by increasing the extent of filler-to-matrix interaction. Thus far, the embedding of nanomaterials into composites has been achieved, but the directional arrangement has proved to be a challenging task. Even with advances in in-situ and shear stress induced orientation, these methods are both difficult to control and unreliable. Therefore, the fabrication of nanomaterials with an ability to orient along a magnetic field is a promising pathway to create highly controllable composite systems with precisely designed characteristics. To this end, the goal of this dissertation is to develop magnetically active nanoscale whiskers and study the effect of the whiskers orientation in a polymer matrix on the nanocomposite's behavior. Namely, we report the surface modification of silicon carbide whiskers (SiCWs) with magnetic nanoparticles and fabrication of SiC/epoxy composite materials. The magnetic nanoparticles attachment to the SiCWs was accomplished using polyelectrolyte polymer-to-polymer complexation. The “grafting to” and adsorption techniques were used to attach the polyelectrolytes to the surface of the SiCWs and magnetic nanoparticles. The anchored polyelectrolytes were polyacrylic acid (PAA) and poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP). Next, the SiC/epoxy composites incorporating randomly oriented and magnetically oriented whiskers were fabricated. The formation of the composite was studied to determine the influence of the whiskers' surface composition on the epoxy curing reaction. After curing, the composites' thermal and thermo-mechanical properties were studied. These properties were related to the dispersion and orientation of the fillers in the composite samples. The obtained results indicated that the thermal and thermo-mechanical properties could be improved by orienting magnetically-active SiCWs inside the matrix. Silanization, “grafting to”, adsorption, and complexation were used to modify the surface of SiCWs to further investigate the epoxy nanocomposite system. The process of composites formation was studied to evaluate the effects of the surface modification on the epoxy curing reaction. The obtained composites were tested and analyzed to assess their thermal and thermo-mechanical properties. These properties were related to the dispersion and surface chemical composition of the fillers in the nanocomposites. It was determined that magnetically modified SiCWs have lower ability for interfacial stress transfer in the composite systems under consideration. The final portion of this work was focused on reinforcing the magnetic layer of the SiCWs. This was accomplished by structurally toughening the magnetic layer with poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) layer. As a result, the thermal and mechanical properties of the magnetic composite system were improved significantly.



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