Scientific reports

Collision-induced activation: Towards industrially scalable approach to graphite nanoplatelets functionalization for superior polymer nanocomposites.

PMID 28620178


Scale-up manufacturing of engineered graphene-like nanomaterials to deliver the industry needs for development of high-performance polymer nanocomposites still remains a challenge. Herein, we introduce a quick and cost-effective approach to scalable production of functionalized graphite nanoplatelets using "kitchen blender" approach and Diels-Alder chemistry. We have shown that, in a solvent-free process and through a cycloaddition mechanism, maleic anhydride can be grafted onto the edge-localized electron rich active sites of graphite nanoplatelets (GNP) resulting from high collision force, called "graphite collision-induced activation". The mechanical impact was modelled by applying the point charge method using density functional theory (DFT). The functionalization of GNP with maleic anhydride (m-GNP) was characterized using various spectroscopy techniques. In the next step, we used a recyclable process to convert m-GNP to the highly-reactive GNP (f-GNP) which exhibits a strong affinity towards the epoxy polymer matrix. It was found that at a low content of f-GNP e.g., 0.5 wt%, significant enhancements of ~54% and ~65% in tensile and flexural strengths of epoxy nanocomposite can be achieved, respectively. It is believed that this new protocol for functionalization of graphene nanomaterials will pave the way for relatively simple industrial scale fabrication of high performance graphene based nanocomposites.