Morphological Characteristics of UHMWPE+Nylon- 6+SWCNT Solution-Spun Hybrid Nanocomposite Fibers Compatibilized with PE-g-MAH’

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Hybrid nanocomposite fibers from a blend of Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHM-WPE)+Nylon-6+single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) were produced using a solution spinning process, both with and without a compatibilizer, Polyethylene-graft-Maleic Anhydride (PEG-g-MAH). The loading of Nylon-6, PE-g-MAH and SWCNTs was 20, 3, and 2 wt% of UHMWPE. A comparative morphological study of the fibers was performed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. SEM images of hybrid fiber cross-sections have shown polymer-coated SWCNTs aligned along the direction of extrusion inside the polymer. The blends with compatibilizer have shown rough and indistinct interfacial separation of the constituent phases, as seen in both cross-sectional and longitudinal views of fibers in SEM micrographs. Whereas, the samples without compatibilizer showed distinct minor polymer phase as droplets. DSC results indicate reduction of crystallinity, crystallization rate and lamellar size in the compatibilized blends. Comparative FTIR analysis of the fiber blends showed the presence of new absorbance peaks (at 1753.62 and 1210–990 cm–1) suggesting formation of imide linkages between the UHMWPE backbone and Nylon-6 chains in the blends with compatibilizer via reactive functional groups present in the PE-g-MAH. The appearance of these peaks were more prominent when nanotubes were present in the blend.