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Journal ArticleDOI

Influence of moisture absorption on electrical properties and charge dynamics of polyethylene silica-based nanocomposites

10 Sep 2018-Journal of Physics D (IOP Publishing)-Vol. 51, Iss: 42, pp 425302

Abstract: The use of nanocomposites as dielectric materials is expected to lead to improved electrical performance. However, recent research has shown that moisture absorption can cause a deterioration in the electrical performance of nanocomposites. Although it is generally accepted that hydroxyl groups attached to nanoparticle surfaces are the main cause of moisture absorption, the impact of this absorption on the electrical properties of nanocomposites is still not fully understood. In this paper, a series of measurements, including thermogravimetric analysis, DC breakdown, surface potential decay and space charge, are conducted with the aim of determining the impact of moisture absorption on the electrical properties of polyethylene/silica nanocomposites. The results show that the loading ratio of nanosilica and the humidity of the conditioning environment determine the amount of absorbed moisture. According to the Zhuravlev model, the main contribution to the deterioration in electrical properties of nanocomposites comes from the large amount of moisture absorbed in multilayer form. It is found that the loading ratio of nanosilica is the most significant factor in reducing DC breakdown strength.

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Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics
ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT
Influence of moisture absorption on electrical properties and charge
dynamics of polyethylene silica-based nanocomposite
To cite this article before publication: Yan Wang et al 2018 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. in press https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6463/aadb7b
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IOPPublishing JournalTitle
JournalXX(XXXX)XXXXXX https://doi.org/XXXX/XXXX
xxxxxxxx/xx/xxxxxx 1 ©xxxxIOPPublishingLtd
Influence of Moisture Absorption on Electrical
Properties and Charge Dynamics of Polyethylene
SilicaBasedNanocomposites
YanWang,DayuanQiang,FuadN.F.Alhabill,ZhiqiangXu,GeorgeChenandAlun
Vaughan
1
The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory, University of Southampton
E-mail: yw14g13@soton.ac.uk
Received xxxxxx
Accepted for publication xxxxxx
Published xxxxxx
Abstract
The use of nanocomposites as dielectric materials is expected to lead to improved electrical
performance. However, recent research has shown that moisture absorption can cause a
deterioration in the electrical performance of nanocomposites. Although it is generally
accepted that hydroxyl groups attached to nanoparticle surfaces are the main cause of
moisture absorption, the impact of this absorption on the electrical properties of
nanocomposites is still not fully understand. In this paper, a series of measurements,
including thermogravimetric analysis, DC breakdown, surface potential decay and space
charge, are conducted with the aim of determining the impact of moisture absorption on the
electrical properties of polyethylene/silica nanocomposites. The results show that the loading
ratio of nanosilica and the humidity of the conditioning environment determine the amount of
absorbed moisture. According to the Zhuravlev model, the main contribution to the
deterioration in electrical properties of nanocomposites comes from the large amount of
moisture absorbed in multilayer form. It is found that the loading ratio of nanosilica is the
most significant factor in reducing DC breakdown strength.
Keywords: nanocomposite; moisture absorption; polyethylene; nanosilica; DC breakdown; charge dynamics
1.Introduction
The concept of a nanodielectric was first proposed in 1994
[1], and such materials have attracted considerable attention
during the following two decades. A number of interesting
results have been obtained showing the desirable electrical
properties of nanodielectrics. For example, magnesium
oxide/low-density polyethylene (LDPE) nanocomposites
exhibit improved DC breakdown strength and effectively
suppressed space-charge formation compared with neat
LDPE [2]. However, it has been found that absorption of
moisture by the incorporated nanoparticles can lead to a
deterioration in the electrical properties of nanocomposites.
This moisture absorption is generally related to the aspect
ratio and surface chemical groups of the nanoparticles [3,4].
For instance, nanosilica-based cross-linked polyethylene
(XLPE) nanocomposites are able to absorb a greater amount
of moisture than the host XLPE owing to the hydroxyl
groups attached to the surface of the nanosilica particles,
leading to a decrease in AC breakdown strength, an increase
in space-charge formation, and a reduction in water tree
aging of wetted specimens [5]. The results for
polyethylene/nanosilica indicate that moisture absorption can
lead to increases in permittivity and loss tangent [4]. For
polyimide/aluminium oxide nanocomposites, a reduction in
breakdown strength and facilitation of surface potential
decay due to moisture absorption have been reported [6].
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Ethylene-vinyl acetate incorporated with organically
modified nanofiller clay showed worsened electrical
properties owing to moisture absorption dependent on the
aspect ratio of the nanofiller, and it was found that a higher
aspect ratio led to greater moisture absorption [3]. Moreover,
the aspect ratio of the nanoparticles strongly affects the stress
distribution within the matrix reinforcement, and this stress
can further affect the diffusion rate of absorbed moisture [7-
9].
Present understanding of moisture absorption behaviour
in nanocomposites is incomplete because, although moisture
can be present in several forms on the nanoparticle surface,
this has not been considered carefully in previous
investigations. Moreover, although there have been many
experimental and theoretical investigations of the impact of
moisture absorption on the electrical properties of
nanocomposites, a reasonable description that links moisture
absorption with electrical properties and charge dynamics is
still lacking. For example, percolation theory has been used
to model and explain the function of the water shell in charge
dynamics [5,10], and the results obtained can be used to
estimate the water shell size in terms of nanoparticle loading
ratios, but this approach cannot deal with the impact of
different forms of moisture on charge transport in
nanocomposites from the perspective of the different
chemical groups attached to the nanoparticle surface.
In this paper, the influence of moisture absorption on the
electrical properties of blended polyethylene/silica
nanocomposites containing untreated or
trimethoxy(propyl)silane-treated nanosilica is studied. In this
material system, the nanosilica is more hygroscopic than the
polyethylene. Therefore, moisture absorption is primarily by
the nanoparticles rather than the host polymer. The moisture
absorbed is measured by weighing specimens and finding the
change in mass and by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA).
Experiments based on DC electric fields, investigating space
charge, surface potential decay and breakdown strength, are
carried out. The surface chemical groups of nanosilica and
their influence on absorbed moisture are discussed in terms
of the Zhuravlev model [11]. The purpose of this research is
to reveal the forms in which moisture is absorbed and study
their impact on the DC breakdown strength and charge
dynamics associated with hydroxyl groups attached to the
nanosilica surface.
2.SurfaceChemicalGroupsofNanosilica
Many species of nanoparticles have been reported to
cause moisture absorption, including Si O
, Si
N
, MgO,
Al
O
, BN and nanoclays [3,6,12-16]. The moisture uptake
for each specific nanoparticle may be different, but in all
cases the absorption process can occur either before or after
specimen manufacture when the nanoparticle or
nanocomposite is exposed to a humid environment.
Nanosilica has frequently been used in research on
nanodielectrics because it is widely available in a range of
sizes, from tens to hundreds of nanometres, and also because
of a number of favourable properties, such as a relatively
high breakdown strength and electrical resistivity [14]. In
addition, from an economic perspective, it can be produced
at low cost by flame hydrolysis or polymerisation. However,
these production methods also make nanosilica hydrophilic.
To obtain spherical nanosilica, both flame hydrolysis and
polymerisation processes will hydroxylate the surface of the
silica, generating Si–OH (silanol) groups on this surface
[11,14]. The hydroxyl (OH) group is covalently bonded with
Si atoms on the surface and inside the particles. It is known
that the presence of OH groups on the surface of nanosilica
particles can change the surface properties, depending on the
concentration of these groups [11].
Besides causing moisture absorption, the OH groups are
also responsible for the agglomeration and compatibility of
nanosilica particles in the host materials. Agglomeration is
dependent on the high surface energy of the nanoparticles,
and surface OH groups enhance this tendency through the
formation of a large number of hydrogen bonds among the
nanoparticles. Therefore, the removal of OH groups from the
surface of nanosilica is a widely accepted approach for
reducing agglomeration. Functionalisation is a common
method for forming stable covalent bonds by replacing the
OH groups using a coupling agent. However, it has been
found that changes in the surface chemistry of nanoparticles
will cause a chain reaction in the nanocomposite, which may
not be in line with expectations. For example, nanosilica
processed at a high temperature (1050 °C with dry nitrogen)
can effectively prevent moisture absorption, but it also forms
larger and denser agglomerates than unprocessed nanosilica
[14].
3.ExperimentalDetails
3.1PreparationandConditioningofSpecimens
The nanosilica powder was received from Sigma-Aldrich
with a size range of 10–20 nm. To reduce the amount of
surface OH groups, trimethoxy(propyl)silane (C3) treatment
was applied to the surface of the received nanosilica via an
anhydrous route, and the related Fourier transform infrared
results indicated that the propyl group was successfully
bonded [4]. The methoxy group of the silane coupling agent
reacts with the OH groups on the nanosilica, forming Si–O–
Si bonds attached to the propyl (–C
3
H
7
) functional group.
The nanocomposites incorporating untreated nanosilica will
be referred to as ASR and those with C3-treated nanosilica as
C3. The host polymer used was 20% high-density
polyethylene (HDPE; Rigidex HD5813A, BP Chemical)
blended with 80% LDPE (LD100BW, ExxonMobil
Chemicals). The control group without nanosilica will be
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referred to as BPE. Four nanosilica loading ratios were used:
0.5, 2 , 5 and 10 wt%. The nanocomposite materials were
manufactured using a solvent method at a temperature of up
to 160 °C [4,12]. Film specimens were melting-pressed with
a hydraulic press at 160 °C. Once removed from the press,
each specimen was placed directly into an oil bath at 115 °C
for 1 hour of isothermal crystallisation. To investigate the
effect of differences in conditioning humidity on moisture
absorption by the nanocomposites, all specimens were
grouped and conditioned at room temperature under
conditions of different relative humidity (RH), including a
vacuum desiccator (RH5), a climate room (RH60) and in
deionised water (immersed condition) for about 9 days.
3.2MeasurementofMoistureAbsorptionandTGA
Moisture absorption by the nanocomposites was measured
by the change in mass, taken as the average value of five
specimens. In addition, a Perkin Elmer Pryis 1 TGA system
was employed to perform TGA for untreated and C3-treated
nanosilica particles that had already been conditioned in a
humid environment (over RH90). The quantity of nanosilica
tested was about 5 mg. The heating rate of TGA was
10 °C/min in dry air over a test range from 50 to 900 °C.
3.3DCBreakdownStrength
DC breakdown measurements were conducted in silicone
oil using spherical electrodes that were changed every 10
tests. The voltage ramping rate was 100 V/s. The specimen
thickness of the nanocomposite films was 70 ± 5 μm. The
results obtained were analysed in terms of the Weibull
distribution.
3.3SurfacePotentialDecay
The schematic diagram of surface potential decay (SPD) was
the same as in the previous study [12]. After negative corona
charging, the first decay reading was taken after 5 s owing to
system delay. In this work, the initial potential was set at 4.8
kV. The corona charging lasted 180 s, and was followed by a
900 s decay period. The thickness of the specimen was 120 ±
5 μm.
3.4SpaceCharge
The pulsed electro-acoustic (PEA) technique was employed
for measuring space-charge behaviour. The equipment used
was the same as in the previous study [17]. The thickness of
the specimen was 120 ± 5 μm. The space charge was tested
for 2 hours.
4.Results
4.1MoistureAbsorptionandTGA
The percentage change in mass for each specimen was
calculated as
M%=
M
d
 M
i
M
i
×100%, (1)
where M
d
is the mass measured after conditioning as a
function of the number of days and
is the initial mass of
the specimen. The results are shown in Fig. 1. The changes in
mass of specimens conditioned in RH5 did not changed,
indicating that the greater increase in mass of the specimens
conditioned at RH60 and Immersed was primarily due to
direct contact with moisture. Therefore the results for
specimens conditioned at RH5 are not shown here.
Fig. 1. Moisture absorption of nanocomposites conditioned (a) at RH60 or (b)
by immersion in water.
The changes in mass of the specimens reached a steady
state by 7 days. From Fig. 1 (a) and (b), it can be seen that
the humidity of the conditioning environment directly affects
the amount of moisture intake and the absorption rate, with a
clear distinction between the RH60 and immersed specimens,
especially for nanocomposites with high loading ratios (5 and
10 wt%). The increase in mass of the control, BPE, was
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much lower than that of the nanocomposites in both humid
environments, which indicates that nanosilica is the main
component causing moisture absorption in the
nanocomposites. The amount and rate of moisture intake of
nanocomposites with 5 and 10 wt% loading ratios are both
greater than those of nanocomposites with 0.5 and 2 wt%
loading ratios, since a higher proportion of nanosilica leads to
a larger number of OH groups. Hence, apart from the
environmental humidity, the loading ratio of nanosilica also
has a significant effect on moisture absorption. Additionally,
agglomerates with a high aspect ratio have frequently been
reported in nanocomposites with loading ratios higher than 5
wt% [15,18]. These high aspect ratios can further contribute
to a significantly increased moisture intake. For the C3
nanocomposites, moisture absorption can still be seen,
although the amount and rate are smaller than for the ASR
nanocomposites. This indicates that the OH groups on the
surface of nanosilica can be reduced in number by the C3
treatment, but not eliminated completely, and the residual OH
groups are still able to absorb moisture via hydrogen bonding
until a steady state is reached. It should be noted that in the
case of the 5 and 10 wt% nanocomposites, the immersed
specimens were replaced in the vacuum desiccator at room
temperature after their conditioning in deionised water. As
can be seen from Fig. 1(b), their masses were reduced sharply
after this drying process.
Fig. 2. TGA and DTG of ASR and C3 nanosilica.
The results of TGA and derivative thermogravimetric
analysis (DTG) are shown for both ASR and C3 nanosilica
particles in Figs. 2 and 3. Distinct DTG peaks can be seen
from 50 to 200 °C, which are attributed to loss of absorbed
moisture from the surface of the nanosilica. In addition, there
is another shallow but broad DTG peak from 200 to 500 °C,
mainly due to the OH groups on the nanosilica. The absorbed
moisture contributes to the primary weight loss during the
heating process. The TGA behaviour of the ASR nanosilica
is different from that of the C3 nanosilica. For instance, from
50 to 200 °C, the ASR nanosilica exhibits a sharp peak,
whereas the C3 nanosilica exhibits two small peaks. As the
C3 nanosilica is exposed longer to the humid environment,
the first peak slowly comes to make up a large percentage of
the weight loss, as shown in Fig. 3, which reveals that the C3
treatment can reduce moisture absorption compared with the
ASR specimen. Furthermore, from 200 to 500 °C in Fig. 2,
the C3 nanosilica loses more weight and does so even faster
than the ASR nanosilica because it contains chemical groups
that possess lower bond strength but higher molecular weight
than OH, such as carbon chains (C–C bonds).
Fig. 3. TGA and DTG of C3 nanosilica with a longer conditioning time.
On heating from 50 to 900 °C, the weight loss from the
nanoparticles was about 11%. Multiplying the loading ratios
by this percentage gives values close to the changes in mass
of the nanocomposites conditioned by immersion with the
corresponding loading ratios. For example, the M% of 10 wt%
nanocomposites is about 1.25%, and that of 5 wt%
nanocomposites is 0.55%. In addition, according to the DTG
curve, the majority of the weight loss occurred from 50 to
200 °C. The absorbed moisture is mainly responsible for the
change in mass of the nanocomposites, which is in line with
the results of weighing.
4.2DCBreakdownStrength
The results for DC breakdown strength as a function of
nanosilica loading ratio and conditioning humidity are shown
in Fig. 4. Twenty tests were conducted for each type of
specimen and the results were processed according to a
cumulative failure probability of 63.2% based on the Weibull
distribution. The BPE control is represented by 0 wt%. For
the specimens conditioned at RH5, moisture absorption is not
significant. An increase in loading ratio for both ASR and C3
nanosilica leads to a poorer DC breakdown strength
regardless of how much moisture is absorbed by the
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Citations
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Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2021
Abstract: Crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) nanocomposites and blends are extensively utilized in different industries owing to their superior properties and characteristics compared to uncrosslinked and pristine polyethylene (PE). These excellent properties enable XLPE nanocomposites and blends to be employed in specialized applications and conditions. Despite their numerous favorable features, they face several risks, challenges, and problems that bring limitations and restrictions for their usage in some cases. Cable industry is one of the leading industries employing XLPE nanocomposites and blends. While these materials can grant outstanding characteristics to the cable insulation (such as dielectric properties), they can also encounter operative challenges in the meantime. This chapter attempts to define these risks and limitations via a comprehensive survey in recent case studies and publications. The described topics are categorized into several parts. They include risks, challenges, and constraints associated with electrical issues, embedded nanoparticles, crosslinking agents, recyclability, surface characteristics, and aging behaviors of XLPE nanocomposites and blends. The definitions of the mentioned problems are accompanied by the most recent and updated proposed solutions to resolve them. For providing inclusive insights in each of the categories, they are additionally subcategorized based on the suggested addressing approaches.

1 citations



Proceedings ArticleDOI
Yu Bai1, Dayuan Qiang2, Yanru Zhang1, Xinyu Wang2  +3 moreInstitutions (2)
18 Oct 2020
Abstract: Agglomeration is a major challenge in the research of nanodielectrics. Recognition of agglomerates in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images can effectively support tackle this issue. Motivated by the fast development of image recognition, we propose a new approach for agglomerates recognition in SEM images of nanodielectrics by semantic segmentation algorithm. On the basis of convolutional neural network, pixel blocks classification network and full convolutional segmentation network employed with data augmentation are investigated in this work. Both networks can preliminarily recognize the agglomerates of spherical silica-based blend polyethylene nanocomposites. The average intersection over union (mIoU) of the pixel blocks classification network is 0.837 and it takes 48 seconds to process an image, while the mIoU of the full convolutional segmentation network is 0.777 and it takes 0.059 seconds to process an image.

Journal ArticleDOI
Dayuan Qiang1, Xinyu Wang1, Yan Wang, Thomas Andritsch1  +1 moreInstitutions (1)
Abstract: Polymer nanocomposites as dielectrics have attracted a wide range of research interests due to their improved performance. One of the observed characteristics of polymer nanocomposites is the suppression on space charge injection and accumulation and the charge transport mechanism behind is also investigated based on thermally activated hopping (TAH) and quantum mechanical tunnelling (QMT) mechanisms. However, there still lacks research on the effect of moisture on charge transport characteristics and its relationship with experimental results. We herein proposed a method to re-virtualize the distribution of nanoparticles/their aggregates based on the multidimensional scaling (MDS) method in the first step, and a simple numerical method is further following to estimate the contribution of TAH and QMT conductivities to the experimental ones. The results, firstly, indicate the presence of moisture could lead to significant charge injections, and for different relative humidity conditions, due to their diverse water shell thickness, the separation distances of nanoparticles where deep/shallow traps locate show an obvious reduction and consequently vary the contribution of TAH and QMT conductivities in the measured ones. Second, the TAH mechanism plays the main role in charge transport/conduction, especially under lower RH conditions, while the obvious increment of QMT conduction is attributed to the reduced trap distances caused by thicker conductive water shells and support the existence of deep traps. Besides, the proposed model could be potentially extended to other research topics on electrical properties of polymer nanocomposites, such as particle size, dispersion/distribution status and filler loading concentrations which can be reflected and explained via the variation of nanoparticle surface/trap site distances.

References
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Journal ArticleDOI
L.T. Zhuravlev1Institutions (1)
Abstract: A review article is presented of the research results obtained by the author on the properties of amorphous silica surface. It has been shown that in any description of the surface silica the hydroxylation of the surface is of critical importance. An analysis was made of the processes of dehydration (the removal of physically adsorbed water), dehydroxylation (the removal of silanol groups from the silica surface), and rehydroxylation (the restoration of the hydroxyl covering). For each of these processes a probable mechanism is suggested. The results of experimental and theoretical studies permitted to construct the original model (Zhuravlev model-1 and model-2) for describing the surface chemistry of amorphous silica. The main advantage of this physico-chemical model lies in the possibility to determine the concentration and the distribution of different types of silanol and siloxane groups and to characterize the energetic heterogeneity of the silica surface as a function of the pretreatment temperature of SiO2 samples. The model makes it possible to determine the kind of the chemisorption of water (rapid, weakly activated or slow, strongly activated) under the restoration of the hydroxyl covering and also to assess of OH groups inside the SiO2 skeleton. The magnitude of the silanol number, that is, the number of OH groups per unit surface area, αOH, when the surface is hydroxylated to the maximum degree, is considered to be a physico-chemical constant. This constant has a numerical value: αOH,AVER=4.6 (least-squares method) and αOH,AVER=4.9 OH nm−2 (arithmetical mean) and is known in literature as the Kiselev–Zhuravlev constant. It has been established that adsorption and other surface properties per unit surface area of silica are identical (except for very fine pores). On the basis of data published in the literature, this model has been found to be useful in solving various applied and theoretical problems in the field of adsorption, catalysis, chromatography, chemical modification, etc. It has been shown that the Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) method is the correct method and gives the opportunity to measure the real physical magnitude of the specific surface area, SKr (by using low temperature adsorption of krypton), for silicas and other oxide dispersed solids.

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Owing to their unique mechanical properties, carbon nanotubes are considered to be ideal candidates for polymer reinforcement. However, a large amount of work must be done in order to realize their full potential. Effective processing of nanotubes and polymers to fabricate new ultra-strong composite materials is still a great challenge. This Review explores the progress that has already been made in the area of mechanical reinforcement of polymers using carbon nanotubes. First, the mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes and the system requirements to maximize reinforcement are discussed. Then, main methods described in the literature to produce and process polymer–nanotube composites are considered and analyzed. After that, mechanical properties of various nanotube–polymer composites prepared by different techniques are critically analyzed and compared. Finally, remaining problems, the achievements so far, and the research that needs to be done in the future are discussed.

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01 Jan 2009
Abstract: Keywords: Droplets Bubbles Microfluidics Encapsulation Emulsion a b s t r a c t In this paper, we emphasize our long series of experiments proving that the physical processes along fluid interfaces can be exploited for creating unusual fluidic objects. We report for the first time a couple of new fluidic objects so-called “liquid onions” and “mayonnaise” droplets. The study starts from the observation of antibubbles, exhibiting unstable liquid‐air‐liquid interfaces. We show that the lifetime of such a system has the same origin as floating/coalescing droplets on liquid surfaces. By analyzing such behaviours, we created droplets bouncing on a liquid bath. The methods and physical phenomena collected in this paper provide a basis for the development of a discrete microfluidics. Open questions are underlined, experimental challenges and future applications are proposed.

510 citations


"Influence of moisture absorption on..." refers background or methods in this paper

  • ...According to the Zhuravlev model, moisture attached to the surface of nanosilica can be divided into two phases: multilayer moisture, which can be removed at 25 °C in vacuum, and monolayer moisture, which requires a temperature of 190 °C in vacuum for its removal [11]....

    [...]

  • ...To obtain spherical nanosilica, both flame hydrolysis and polymerisation processes will hydroxylate the surface of the silica, generating Si–OH (silanol) groups on this surface [11,14]....

    [...]

  • ...The surface chemical groups of nanosilica and their influence on absorbed moisture are discussed in terms of the Zhuravlev model [11]....

    [...]

  • ...The OH groups are covalently bonded to the nanosilica surface, whereas the H2O molecules are physically bonded to the OH groups primarily via hydrogen bonds but also via van der Waals bonds [11]....

    [...]

  • ...It is known that the presence of OH groups on the surface of nanosilica particles can change the surface properties, depending on the concentration of these groups [11]....

    [...]


Journal Article
T.J. Lewis1Institutions (1)
Abstract: It is suggested that a major field of study in the future development of dielectrics will concern their properties when relatively few molecules are involved. Such smallness arises naturally at interfaces of nanometric thickness and will occur also when dielectrics are employed in the nano-technical devices of the future. It already occurs in living systems where the dielectric and conductive properties of biomaterials are vital in sustaining activity. The transverse and lateral properties of interfaces, including the effects of molecular ordering, are considered and it is suggested that the advent of scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopies provides a significant opportunity for nanometric dielectric studies. An important feature, suggested for future exploitation, is the cross-coupling in interfaces of force fields arising from electrical, mechanical, chemical and entropic potential gradients. Application of these concepts to biology and to the behavior of polymer gels which may lead to development of muscle-like actuators and transducers are considered. Finally, attention is drawn to the likely role of nanometric interfacial processes in the initiation of electrical breakdown in insulating materials. >

465 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Chen Zou1, John C. Fothergill1, Stephen Rowe2Institutions (2)
Abstract: In this research, the influence of water absorption on the dielectric properties of epoxy resin and epoxy micro-composites and nano-composites filled with silica has been studied. Nanocomposites were found to absorb significantly more water than unfilled epoxy. However, the microcomposite absorbed less water than unfilled epoxy: corresponding to the reduced proportion of the epoxy in this composite. The glass transition temperatures (Tg) of all the samples were measured by both differential scanning calorimetry and dielectric spectroscopy. The Tg decreased as the water absorption increased and, in all cases, corresponded to a drop of approximately 20 K as the humidity was increased from 0% to 100%. This implied that for all the samples, the amount of water in the resin component of the composites was almost identical. It was concluded that the extra water found in the nanocomposites was located around the surface of the nanoparticles. This was confirmed by measuring the water uptake, and the swelling and density change, as a function of humidity as water was absorbed. The water shell model, originally proposed by Lewis and developed by Tanaka, has been further developed to explain low frequency dielectric spectroscopy results in which percolation of charge carriers through overlapping water shells was shown to occur. This has been discussed in terms of a percolation model. At 100% relative humidity, water is believed to surround the nanoparticles with a thickness of approximately 5 monolayers. A second layer of water is proposed that is dispersed but sufficiently concentrated to be conductive; this may extend for approximately 25 nm. If all the water had existed in a single layer surrounding a nanoparticle, this layer would have been approximately 3 to 4 nm thick at 100%. This "characteristic thickness" of water surrounding a given size of nanoparticle appeared to be independent of the concentration of nanoparticles but approximately proportional to water uptake. Filler particles that have surfaces that are functionalized to be hydrophobic considerably reduce the amount of water absorbed in nanocomposites under the same conditions of humidity. Comments are made on the possible effect on electrical aging.

246 citations


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20211
20203