- Fabricate polymer matrix nanocomposites with engineered properties aimed at dramatically increasing their electrical, thermal and mechanical properties at low volume fractions of the filler.
- Develop an understanding of the thermo-mechanical deformation behaviour of the nanocomposites by in-situ experiments and finite element analysis.
Polymer matrix nanocomposites fabricated by compression molding have shown novel microstructures which have allowed radical increases in electrical conductivity at very low concentrations of conductive filler. Under the optimum processing conditions, the polymer matrix can transform into space filling polyhedra surrounded by a segregated distribution of nanoparticles along the sharp edges of the matrix. The continuous 3D network-like distribution of nanoparticles contributes to this unique percolation behaviour at subcritical filler concentrations. These composites may find applications in microelectronics such as interconnections in circuit boards, thermal interface materials, heat sinks, EMI shielding and others because of the conducting properties obtained at low cost using a relatively simple manufacturing method. For the better understanding of this unique microstructure and to develop a more complete design space, the thermo-mechanical deformation behaviour of the nanocomposites need to be investigated. This will be done using in-situ thermomechanical deformation experiments coupled with thermomechanical finite element modeling.
The project will aim to manufacture nanocomposites with the desired electrical and thermal conductivity for specific applications, with the goal of not compromising the mechanical properties. Steps will include:
- Materials selection: Insulating matrix and conductive filler.
- Composite Manufacturing: powder batch fabrication and hot pressing.
- Microstructural characterization using AFM, SEM, and TEM.
- Thermal stability and thermo-mechanical deformation experiments
- Finite element analysis using commercial modeling tools such as COMSOL and ANSYS to understand viscoelastic movement of the matrix and filler and to investigate mechanisms of thermo-mechanical deformation behaviour.
- Expand applications such as electro-optical, automotive and aircraft materials.
B.S. or higher degree in Materials Science or Mechanical Engineering. Experience with mechanical testing and/or finite element analysis is desirable.