Functional polymer/graphene oxide composites synthesis, characterization and applications
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Polymer nanocomposites have been identified as a growth area for the last several decades. The synergy between inorganic and organic compounds has played a major role in developing advanced functional materials for many emerging applications, including enhancing physical/chemical properties of base polymers, replacing metal counterparts, and introducing new energy storage materials, among others. While a number of carbon based nanoparticles have been considered as nanofiller material, significant research effort has been devoted to studies on graphene and its graphene oxide (GO) or reduced graphene oxide (rGO) derivatives. Graphenes are 2D sheets of carbonaceous material that possess extraordinary mechanical properties, thermal and electrical conductivities, and high surface area. However, most of the methods that have been developed to mass produce graphenes often require costly and tedious purification, along with associated high energy consumption, to achieve the most attractive forms of the material. One of the solutions to reduce the cost of synthesizing graphene while preserving its excellent properties is to use a precursor such as GO. While preparing GO, GO sheets can be functionalized with numerous reactive groups including carboxylic acids, hydroxyls, and epoxides that can be exploited for materials design. The work in this thesis outlines the synthesis of functional polymer/GO composites by utilizing secondary interactions, such as hydrogen bonding and π-π interactions, and covalent bonds between functional polymer and GO sheets. To understand the impact of these approaches, a fundamental investigation directed towards characterizing various chemical and physical properties for a range of GO-containing materials is discussed in full detail. In addition, different functional polymer/GO composites proposed in this work are evaluated for their utility in a number of different applications. Finally, it is expected that these composite materials will be cost-effective, commercially relevant and reasonable to scale-up for mass production. Therefore, this research will not only contribute to enriching fundamental knowledge but it also has potential to impact society and the economy.