Polymer matrix nanocomposites by inkjet printing

Brian McMorrow, Richard Chartoff, Pierre Lucas, Wade Richardson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This paper describes work on a continuing project to form functional composites that contain ceramic nanoparticles using a Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) inkjet printing method. The process involves inkjet deposition of monomer/particle suspensions in layers followed by curing each layer in sequence using UV radiation. The reactive monomer is hexanediol-diacrylate (HDODA); the polymer forming reaction proceeds by a free radical mechanism. The liquid monomer containing nanoparticles is essentially a printing ink formulation. Successfully suspending the particles in the monomer is critical. We have developed a surface treatment method for forming stable suspensions of the nanoparticles so that they remain discrete throughout the processing sequence. The SFF process involves careful control of the polymer cure so that the interface between layers is seamless and residual stresses in the composites are eliminated. An immediate use for such composites is in optical applications as gradient refractive index lenses (GRIN). GRIN lenses have planar surfaces, eliminating the need for costly grinding and polishing. The planar surfaces also eliminate optical aberrations that result at the edges of spherical lenses and diminish the accuracy of focus. If the appropriate nanoparticles are fully dispersed they will modify the polymer's refractive index without interfering with light transmission. The effect is additive with volume concentration. Using 'inks' of different compositions in a multiple nozzle inkjet printer allows the formation of composites with precise composition gradients. Since an object is built one planar layer at a time, changes can be made readily both within each layer and from layer to layer. Inkjet printing with picoliter resolution is ideal for this task. Working with SiC nanoparticles in HDODA as a model system for demonstrating the inkjet deposition process, nanocomposite films with a linear concentration gradient varying from 0 to 4.5% (wt) were fabricated on Silicon wafers. These composites are 30 layer films, which total 140μm in thickness. Each layer in the composite is about 5 μm in thickness. Analytical methods for characterizing the dispersion of the nanoparticles in the composite and some of the salient optical properties of the composites also were established. The status of the program is reviewed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2005
Event16th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, SFF 2005 - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Aug 1 2005Aug 3 2005


Other16th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, SFF 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAustin, TX


  • Dispersing nanoparticles in polymers
  • Polymer matrix nanocomposites
  • Solid freeform fabrication of nanocomposites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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