Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Germano S. Iannacchione, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Sabyasachi Sarkar, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Georgi Georgiev, Committee Member




"Composites of nanoparticles with complex fluids represent a unique physical system where thermal physical properties of the components partially or fully mix and new behavior can emerge. Traditional composites are relatively well understood as the superposition, weighted by volume or mass, of the components properties and the interfacial interactions play the role of holding the composite together. As the filler component, nanoparticle, decreases in size, the surface area begins to dominate, leading to unique behavior of the nanocomposites. The richness of the nanocomposites that can be designed by coupling various nanoparticles and complex fluid materials opens a wide field of active research. This dissertation presents a series of experimental studies on various nanocomposites using modulated differential scanning calorimetry, spectroscopic ellipsometry, dielectric spectroscopy, polarizing microscopy, and conductivity measurements of nanoparticles such as multi-wall carbon nanotubes and quantum dots on the phase transitions of several liquid crystals and polymers. The liquid crystals (LCs) and liquid crystalline polymer (LCP) of interest are: negative dielectric anisotropy alkoxyphenylbenzoate (9OO4), octylcyanobiphenyl (8CB), decylcyanobiphenyl (10CB), and isotactic polypropylene (iPP) which can form smectic liquid crystal (LC) phase. Studies have been carried out as a function of concentration and temperature spanning through various ordered phases. The results indicate a mixture of ordering and disordering effects of the nanoparticles on the phases of the complex fluids. In 9OO4/CNT system, dipole moment of liquid crystal and graphene like surface can allow a random dispersion of CNT to promote both orientational and positional order. For nCB/CNT, nCB/Quantum dot (QD) systems, nanoparticles induce net disordering effect in LC media. The effect of QDs on LC depends on the anchoring conditions and the QDs size. The results clearly demonstrate that the nematic phase imposes self-assembly on QDs to form one dimensional arrays. This leads to net disordering effect. The thermal/electrical conductivity changes in thin films of iPP/CNT sheared/un-sheared samples and it also varies with temperature for the purpose of inducing anisotropy of those properties in parallel and perpendicular to average orientation. The percolation threshold is clearly pronounced in both conductivities due to pressing and shearing treatment of the films. This will further our abilities to nano-engineer material for many important applications."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Polymers, Liquid crystals, Polymernanocomposites and nanoparticles