PROCESSING OF NANOCOMPOSITES AND THEIR THERMAL AND RHEOLOGICAL CHARACTERIZATION
Polymer nanocomposites are a constantly evolving material category due to the ability to engineer the mechanical, thermal, and optical properties to enhance the efficiency of a variety of systems. While a vast amount of research has focused on the physical phenomena of nanoparticles and their contribution to the improvement of such properties, the ability to implement these materials into existing commercial or newly emerging processing methods has been studied much less extensively. The primary characteristic that determines which processing technique is the most viable is the rheology or viscosity of the material. In this work, we investigate the processing methods and properties of nanocomposites for thermal interface and radiative cooling applications. The first polymer nanocomposite examined here is a two-component PDMS with graphene filler for 3D printing via a direct ink writing approach. The composite acts as a thermal interface material which can enhance cooling between a microprocessor and a heat sink by increasing the thermal conductivity of the gap. Direct ink writing requires a shear thinning ink with specific viscoelastic properties that allow for the material to yield through a nozzle as well as retain its shape without a mold following deposition. No predictive models of viscosity for nanocomposites exist; therefore, several prominent models from literature are fit with experimental data to describe the change in viscosity with the addition of filler for several different PDMS ratios. The result is an understanding of the relationship between the PDMS component ratio and graphene filler concentration with respect to viscosity, with the goal of remaining within the acceptable limits for printing via direct ink writing. The second nanocomposite system whose processability is determined is paint consisting of acrylic filled with reflective nanoparticles for radiative cooling paint applications. The paint is tested with both inkjet and screen-printing procedures with the goal of producing a thermally invisible ink. Radiative cooling paint is successfully printed for the first time with solvent modification. This work evaluates the processability of polymer nanocomposites through rheological tailoring.