Nanocomposites are materials that incorporate nanosized particles into a matrix of standard material. The result of the addition of nanoparticles is a drastic improvement in properties that can include mechanical strength, toughness and electrical or thermal conductivity. The effectiveness of the nanoparticles is such that the amount of material added is normally only between 0.5 and 5% by weight.
Nanocomposites can dramatically improve properties like:
• Mechanical properties including strength, modulus and dimensional stability
• Electrical conductivity
• Decreased gas, water and hydrocarbon permeability
• Flame retardancy
• Thermal stability
• Chemical resistance
• Surface appearance
• Optical clarity
How Nanocomposites Work
Nanoparticles have an extremely high surface to volume ratio which dramatically changes their properties when compared with their bulk sized equivalents. It also changes the way in which the nanoparticles bond with the bulk material. The result is that the composite can be many times improved with respect to the component parts. Some nanocomposite materials have been shown to be 1000 times tougher than the bulk component materials.
Nanocomposites are currently being used in a number of fields and new applications are being continuously developed. Applications for nanocomposites include:
• Thin-film capacitors for computer chips
• Solid polymer electrolyes for batteries.
• Automotive engine parts and fuel tanks
• Impellers and blades
• Oxygen and gas barriers
• Food packaging