Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Polymer Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Sergei Nazarenko

Committee Chair School

Polymer Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. Gopinath Subramanian

Committee Member 3

Dr. Manoj Shukla

Committee Member 4

Dr. Derek Patton

Committee Member 4 School

Polymer Science and Engineering

Committee Member 5

Dr. Jeffrey Wiggins

Committee Member 5 School

Polymer Science and Engineering

Committee Member 6

Dr. Ras Pandey

Committee Member 6 School

Mathematics and Natural Sciences


Polymers have potential for a wide range of applications. The effectiveness of polymers can be further enhanced through the addition of nanofillers that improve thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of the polymer. Carbon based nanofillers such as carbon nanotube (CNT), graphene, and carbon nanofibre (CNF) are of particular interest due to their high properties and high aspect ratios. However, limited understanding of the governing interactions of these nanofillers with polymers limits the effectiveness of the final nanocomposite.

The first facet of this dissertation focuses on determining the dominating interactions between pristine CNT and graphene with nylon 6 monomer and the roles defects play in that interaction. Chapter III focuses on the effects of functionalization of CNT and graphene on their material properties and the dominating interactions. Chapter IV analyzes the relationship between the strength of interaction with nylon 6 and the nanofillers with the resulting effect on the nanocomposite’s Young’s modulus.

Chapter II effectively shows that van der Waals interactions dominate the complex formation of graphene with CNT and with nylon 6. CNT is found to interact more strongly with graphene than with itself, indicating the potential for graphene as a CNT dispersant. It is also shown that the presence of a defect in CNT reduces possible interactions with graphene and nylon 6 but the presence of a defect on graphene has no effect on interactions. Chapter III reveals that functionalization of CNT and graphene improves interaction strength of the CNT-graphene complex and highlights the reduction in Young’s modulus as a result of the functionalization. Chapter IV shows that stronger interactions with nylon 6 results in better improvement of Young’s modulus of nylon 6 nanocomposite where the CNT-graphene complex had the best improvement of the original polymer.