Three-Dimensional Optical Characterization of Heterogeneous Polymer Systems

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Li, Zhi
Samuels, Robert J.
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In order to truly understand the process-property behavior of polymer systems it is essential to identify the three dimensional structure of the materials fabricated. For heterogeneous polymer systems such as nanoparticle filled systems, determination of the three dimensional optical properties are particularly difficult. Such information is essential, however, if the behavior of these systems are to be understood and formalized. The purpose of the present research was to develop methods for measuring the optical characteristics of heterogeneous polymer systems nondestructively, in order to characterize their three dimensional behavior. The thesis contains three parts: Part A: Study of an Oriented Uniformly Distributed System: Stretched Isotactic Polypropylene- nano Carbon Black Films (IPP-CB). Three nondestructive optical methods: optical waveguide coupling, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction, were used to investigate the effect of the carbon black on the phase behavior and orientation of the films. It was found that the carbon black has little effect on the crystal form and crystallinity, but has a significant effect on the three dimensional orientation behavior of the polypropylene in the IPP-CB systems. Part B: Study of a non-Uniformly Distributed System: Compression Molded Poly (Methyl Methacrylate) with Nano Indium Tin Oxide (PMMA-ITO) The PMMA-ITO sample is an un-oriented and non-uniformly mixed system which has a grain structure. A unique Break Point Waveguide Method was developed to deal with this problem. It was found that both the refractive index and the extinction coefficient increased with ITO concentration and the samples were three dimensionally random. Part C: Development of Computational Improvements in System Operations Four methods were developed to improve the accuracy of the waveguide methods. They are the Bootstrap Method, the Two-Line Method, the Big Area Method and the Modified Knee method. In conclusion, the three dimensional optical characteristics of two different kinds of heterogeneous polymer systems, oriented uniformly distributed IPP-CB films and non-uniformly distributed PMMA-ITO composites, are obtained and their structures evaluated. Further, several new methods were developed to improve the accuracy of the current optical waveguide methods.
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