Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science, Applied Physical Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

Rafael Quirino

Committee Member 1

John DiCesare

Committee Member 2

Ji Wu


The use of carbon nanotubes in polymer composites can increase the mechanical properties of the resulting product. Carbon nanotubes are known to have chemical interactions that make them attracted to one another and fall out of solution. To reduce this agglomeration and disperse the mechanical properties throughout the composite, functional groups are covalently added to the carbon nanotubes. Another known property of carbon nanotubes is their ability to absorb microwaves and convert it into other forms of energy. This research investigates the effects of carbon nanotube absorption of microwaves and initiation of styrene monomer polymerization. Grignard reactions are used to attach aromatic functional groups with and without vinyl side groups to investigate crosslinking of carbon nanotubes and styrene polymer chains. It is hypothesized that the functionalization of CNTs will reduce aggregation of nanoparticles in polystyrene composites and that polymerization of these composites can be induces with microwaves. The hopes were that that microwave irradiation energy would be powerful enough to initiate stepwise polymerization starting at the carbon nanotube through the vinyl group. The double bonded carbon group found in 4-vinylbenzyl functionalized CNTs would theoretically be able to induce crosslinking with styrene monomers. The functionalization of carbon nanotubes is characterized with settling tests, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and Raman spectroscopy. The composites synthesized with functionalized carbon nanotubes are analyzed with TGA, dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and X-Ray diffraction (XRD).

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material