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Development Of A Nano Filled Composite Experiment For A Freshman Class

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Hands-on Materials Science and Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.516.1 - 12.516.7



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Paper Authors

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Richard Griffin Texas A&M University

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Ibrahim Karaman Texas A&M University

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Ji Ma Texas A&M University

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Jeffrey Froyd Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Jaime Grunlan Texas A&M University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of a Nano-filled Composite Experiment for a Freshman Class


Projects that help first-year engineering and science students become more familiar with concepts of nanomaterials may become an important vehicle for increasing student interest and understanding of the potential of technologies that manipulate materials at the molecular level. The authors received a National Science Foundation NUE award entitled “Infusing Nanomaterials into Undergraduate Science and Engineering Curricula” for the development of an undergraduate Certificate in Nanomaterials within the colleges of engineering and science. As part of the NSF-supported project, but separate from the certificate program, we are developing a series of experiments that will be introduced in the first-year engineering program at a large, research-intensive university. The goal of the experiments is to help students determine how differences in concentrations of nano-sized particles, which are added to common materials, can change physical properties. In this exercise, student teams will fabricate composite films filled with different concentrations of carbon black in two different types of polymers: 1. latex-based composite with poly (vinyl acetate), and 2. solution-based composite with poly (vinylpyrrolidone). The concentrations vary from about 2 wt% to 15 wt%. For mechanical properties, the students will determine the tensile strength and the strain to failure using an Instron test machine with a 1000 lbf load cell. For electrical properties, the students will determine the electrical resistivity for the different carbon black concentrations.

Preliminary experiments show relatively little change in the tensile strength. However, there is a three to five order change in the composite’s resistivity. A select group of freshman will run the experiment during spring 2007. Students will be asked to propose hypotheses to explain why changes in the concentrations change or fail to change physical properties of the materials.


Currently, there is a substantial interest in the behavior of materials that are in the nanometer size range.1 The National Science Foundation has had a nano initiative for a number of years. The size range for nanomaterials is from 1 to 100 nm. At this scale, the physical, chemical, and biological properties of material are different from their bulk material counterparts. For example, if a metal has a grain size of 1 nm, and the grain boundary thickness is assumed to be 0.2 nm and the grains are considered as squares, then the boundary area becomes approximately 50% of the cross-sectional area. Since grain boundaries have different characteristics than does the matrix, the materials properties may be substantially changed. According to the website there are seven programs in the USA that have degrees in nanotechnology and 15 additional universities with programs and courses in nanotechnology.

The objective of this paper is to describe the development of an experiment that uses carbon black particles in polymeric matrix to form composites with varying amounts of carbon black.2 The students measure mechanical and electrical properties of the specimens, and from the information collected, they design a sensor for detecting various vapors.

Griffin, R., & Karaman, I., & Ma, J., & Froyd, J., & Grunlan, J. (2007, June), Development Of A Nano Filled Composite Experiment For A Freshman Class Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2817

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