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Largely improved thermal conductivity of HDPE/expanded graphite/carbon nanotubes ternary composites via filler network-network synergy Part A Applied science and manufacturing

Che, Junjin, Wu, Kai, Lin, Yunjie, Wang, Ke, Fu, Qiang
Composites 2017 v.99 pp. 32-40
carbon nanotubes, composite materials, electrical conductivity, graphene, melting, mixing, polyethylene, rheology, scanning electron microscopy, thermal conductivity
Utilizing the synergistic effect of various fillers is an efficient strategy to enhance the thermal conductivity of polymer composites, in which the key is to modulate their dispersion and network formation in polymer matrix. In this work, expanded graphite (EG) was individually added into high density polyethylene (HDPE) to fabricate first the binary composites through melt blending. The electrical conductivity of the prepared composites was measured to determine the percolation threshold for HDPE/EG composites. Then HDPE/EG composites with three compositions, representing below percolation, just percolation and above percolation, respectively, were chosen as matrix and melt mixed with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to make HDPE/EG/CNTs ternary composites. It was found that adding CNTs results in a linear increase of thermal conductivity for HDPE/EG composites with composition below percolation, along the line by adding the same amount of EG. While a jump of thermal conductivity was observed by adding CNTs for HDPE/EG composites with composition just and above percolation. The electrical conductivity and rheology property were measured and SEM experiment was carried out to explore the filler dispersion and their network formation in HDPE matrix. All the results suggested a possible location CNTs in EG filler network for HDPE/EG composites with composition just and above percolation. Thus the formation of CNTs network within EG network is attributed to the main reason for the largely enhanced thermal property. This work endows a new enlightenment to fabricate the composites with a great thermal conductivity.