Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review

Document Type



Exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets (herein called graphene) are nanometer-thin platelets that are being extensively researched for their high stiffness, thermal conductivity, mass transfer barrier properties, and electrical conductivity towards developing a wide range of applications such as polymer nanocomposites (PNCs). These graphene-based PNCs (GPNCs) are expected to have better properties as compared to PNCs made using carbon nanotubes or nano-layered silicates. Graphene platelets are generally hydrophilic in nature hence difficult to disperse in polymers. In the work described here, surface treatment of graphene using 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane (APTMS), as shown by energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), results in more hydrophobic graphene which shows better dispersion. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images illustrate the effect of surface treatment on the dispersion of graphene into polyvinyl acetate (PVAc). Barrier properties of treated and untreated graphene in PVAc were measured by sorption tests of GPNCs in water at various filler concentrations and different platelet diameters which show that the graphene platelets form an excellent barrier against diffusion.