What is it about?

This study involves the development of individual and hybrid nanocomposites and their structural, thermal, and mechanical characterization, using wear-resistant fillers like aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and boron carbide (B4C) in a high-performance polymer, namely, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). The produced nanocomposites present enhancement of their mechanical properties as compared to the pure polymer, evidenced by indentation tests. This work shows that UHMWPE can be manipulated to suit industrial applications that demand good mechanical reinforcement without losing thermal stability.

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Why is it important?

The particular structural characteristics of UHMWPE cause the low processability of this polymer due to extremely high viscosity. Even more challenging for its processability is adding nanofillers into the polymer matrix to produce nanocomposites. The development of such nanocomposites has been growing in recent years due to evident improvement of polymer properties with the incorporation of nanofillers. In this work, nanocomposites of UHMWPE were produced with simultaneous addition of Al2O3 and B4C nanoparticles in different concentrations to study the synergy effect between the nanomaterials. Moreover, Vitamin E was added to avoid oxidation during processing. Characterization of microstructure, thermal stability, and mechanical behavior are presented. The produced nanocomposites present enhancement of their mechanical properties as compared to the pure polymer, without losing thermal stability, which is important for its processability. Investigations on the proposed ternary composite UHMWPE material have not been found in the literature.

Perspectives

I hope this article will reach and encourage many groups to develop their research on ternary nanocomposites and accelerate this technology, which can quickly improve the quality of life for many people. In addition, I also expect good collaborations with other research groups and industries.

Igor Soares
National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology

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This page is a summary of: Enhancement of mechanical properties of ultra‐high molecular weight polyethylene nanocomposites without losing thermal stability, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, May 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/app.52618.
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