Rheology of high-aspect-ratio nanocarbons
Printing inks typically consist of a functional component dispersed within a low-viscosity resin/solvent system where interparticle interactions would be expected to play a significant role in dispersion, especially for the high-aspect-ratio nanocarbons such as the graphite nanoplatelets (GNPs). Rheology has been suggested as a method for assessing the dispersion of carbon nanomaterials in a fluid.
The effects of phase volume of ammonia plasma-functionalised GNPs on a near-Newtonian low-viscosity thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) resin system have been studied using shear and quiescent oscillatory rheology. At low concentrations, the GNPs were well dispersed with a similar shear profile and viscoelastic behavior to the unfilled TPU resin, as viscous behavior prevailed indicating the absence of any long-range order within the fluid. Particle interactions increased rapidly as the phase volume tended toward maximum packing fraction, producing rapid increases in the relative viscosity, increased low shear rate shear thinning, and the elastic response becoming increasingly frequency independent.
Krieger–Dougherty model provided the best fit
The nanoscale dimensions and high-aspect-ratio GNPs occupied a large volume within the flow, while small interparticle distances caused rapid increases in the particle–particle interactions to form flocculates that pack less effectively. Established rheological models were fitted to the experimental data to model the effect of high-aspect-ratio nanocarbon on the viscosity of a low-viscosity system.
Using the intrinsic viscosity and the maximum packing fraction as fitting parameters, the Krieger–Dougherty (K–D) model provided the best fit with values. There was good agreement between the estimates of aspect ratio from the SEM images and the predictions of the aspect ratio from the rheological models. According to the scientists, the fitting of the K–D model to measured viscosities at various phase volumes could be an effective method in characterising the shape and dispersion of high-aspect-ratio nanocarbons.
The study has been published in Journal of Coatings Technology and Research, Volume 17.