Researchers reveal the multifunctionality of polyurea nanocomposites

Researchers reveal the multifunctionality of polyurea nanocomposites

A new study published in the journal Smart materials in manufacturing focuses on producing smart, multifaceted and structurally robust nanocomposites by combining functionalized graphene nanoparticles (F-GNP) with polyurea.

Researchers reveal the multifunctionality of polyurea nanocomposites

Study: Smart multifunctional elastomeric nanocomposite materials containing graphene nanoparticles. Image credit: Saachka Pro /

Polyurea is an elastomeric material with remarkable mechanical properties. However, pure polyurea elastomers are often hampered by a lack of toughness and performance.

What is polyurea material?

Polyurea is one of the most important materials for structural shock absorption. Its soft sections consist mostly of long carbon sequences, oligomeric polyols and other elastic sections with a wide range of conformations. Isocyanates and chain extenders are used as mechanical crosslinks and reinforcement phases in the hard sections.

Polyurea has distinct viscoelastic properties that are greatly affected by pressure, heat and elongation rates. The robust hydrogen bond and the intricate internal structures contribute to its remarkable defensive properties.

Polyurea polymers are limited in some situations due to lack of functionality or poor protection efficiency. Nanocomposite technology can help solve these problems.

Functional conductive additives: the future of polymers

Functionalized polymer-based substances typically integrate polymers with special functional additives to generate new or significantly improved properties such as conductance, heat dissipation, barrier properties and detection, especially self-sensing, required for information-based advanced materials.

Fiber optics are often used to provide sensing capability for polymeric materials or concrete composites. This in turn causes errors in the composites and necessitates the use of large-scale test equipment. Self-identifying nanomaterials, which have emerged in recent years, are expected to overcome this limitation.

Under external stress, the conductive particle matrix is ​​distorted and broken away, allowing the network to change and the electrical resistance of the composites (the piezoresistive ability) to change.

Graphene nanoplatelets (GDP) as functional additives

Metals (eg flakes or strings), conductive foams, MXenes and activated carbon fillers such as carbon black, nanotubes and graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) are all good considerations for conductive additives.

Metal-based compounds have the disadvantage of being heavier due to their heavy loads. Higher loads can result in reduced machinability and increased costs.

GDP has gained popularity due to its superior electromechanical properties. Efficient conductive networks can be built at low electrical percolation criteria due to their large aspect ratio. However, the homogeneous distribution of GDP in polymeric materials remains a significant challenge.

Scheme for (a) production of a polyurea / F-GNP nanocomposite and (b) the multichannel sensing system. © Meng, Q. et al. (2022)

Highlights of current research

While most previous research on polyurea focused solely on mechanical properties and capacities, this work focuses on the multifunctionality of polyurea nanomaterials.

Functionalized graphene nanoplates (F-GNP) were used as fiber reinforcements in this study to create multifaceted, self-identifying polyurea composite materials with improved mechanical performance.

The researchers examined the effect of F-GNP on the mechanical properties and impact strength of polyurea elastomers to see if the nanocomposites can be widely used as protective substances.

The main results of the study

Polyurea nanocomposites, as a new type of multifunctional nanomaterial, not only offer continuous and safe properties for elongation detection and temperature measurement, but they can also monitor and locate the evolution of their degradation, as evidenced by low-speed experiments and demolition experiments.

The electrical conductivity of all produced nanocomposites increased as the nanofill concentration increased, and the electrical percolation limit was set to 1.05% by volume. The nanocomposite showed remarkable sensitivity in the stem region of 0–5%.

The results reveal that the standardized resistance of the nanocomposite changes with temperature, and its sensitivity varies between the low and high temperature ranges. The nanocomposites showed good reliability and stability during cycle stress measurements up to 9100 cycles and showed a stable sensing capacity between 20 ° C and 80 ° C.

Future prospects and future prospects

This study describes a simple and efficient method for producing highly efficient, multifaceted polyurea nanocomposites. These functions are realized by modifying, degrading and restoring the conductive system within the nanomaterials.

The self-sensing ability of functionalized polyurea composites to accurately detect and locate explosion damage and crack development as a new category of smart materials can open the door to many new industrial applications.


Meng, Q. et al. (2022). Smart multifunctional elastomeric nanocomposite materials containing graphene nanoparticles. Smart materials in manufacturing. Available on: https: // Researchers reveal the multifunctionality of polyurea nanocomposites

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