The effect of graphene dispersion on the mechanical properties of graphene/epoxy composites

Long Cheng Tang, Yanjun Jean Wan, Dong Yan, Yong Bing Pei, Li Zhao, Yi Bao Li, Lian Bin Wu, Jian Xiong Jiang, Guo Qiao Lai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    971 Scopus citations


    The effect of dispersion state of graphene on mechanical properties of graphene/epoxy composites was investigated. The graphene sheets were exfoliated from graphite oxide (GO) via thermal reduction (thermally reduced GO, RGO). Different dispersions of RGO sheets were prepared with and without ball mill mixing. It was found that the composites with highly dispersed RGO showed higher glass transition temperature (Tg) and strength than those with poorly dispersed RGO, although no significant differences in both the tensile and flexural moduli are caused by the different dispersion levels. In particular, the Tg was increased by nearly 11 C with the addition of 0.2 wt.% well dispersed RGO to epoxy. As expected, the highly dispersed RGO also produced one or two orders of magnitude higher electrical conductivity than the corresponding poorly dispersed RGO. Furthermore, an improved quasi-static fracture toughness (KIC) was measured in the case of good dispersion. The poorly and highly dispersed RGO at 0.2 wt.% loading resulted in about 24% and 52% improvement in KIC of cured epoxy thermosets, respectively. RGO sheets were observed to bridge the micro-crack and debond/delaminate during fracture process due to the poor filler/matrix and filler/filler interface, which should be the key elements of the toughening effect.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)16-27
    Number of pages12
    StatePublished - Aug 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Chemistry
    • General Materials Science


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