Nanocomposite, carbon nanotube, gold nanoparticles, conjugated polymer, self assembled mononlayer, laser ablation


This dissertation demonstrated that the manipulation of substances at the molecular or nanometer level can lead to the discovery and development of new materials with interesting properties and important applications. Chapter 1 describes the development of a nanoscale molecular thin film material for corrosion protection. By using a self-assembled monolayer film with a thickness of only about 1 nanometer as a linkage, a covalent bonding was achieved between a polyurethane top coating and an aluminum alloy substrate. This covalent bonding between polymer top coating and the aluminum alloy substrate significantly improved the corrosion resistance of the substrate. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 describe the development of a gold nanoparticle-polymer composite material in different forms with a number of applications. Gold nanoparticles are among one of the most extensively studied nanomaterials. When the size of gold is shrunk to the nanometer scale, many interesting and new physical properties start to appear from gold nanoparticles. The optical properties of gold nanoparticles, particularly the surface plasmon resonance absorption, have been investigated in this dissertation for the development of multifunctional nanocomposite materials. Chapter 2 presents the preparation of a gold nanoparticle/poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) nanocomposite film and the application of such films for microstructure fabrication using a direct laser writing technique. Gold nanoparticles are excellent photon-thermal energy converters due to their large absorption cross section at the surface plasmon resonance region. Upon laser irradiation of the nanocomposite film, the thermal energy converted from the absorbed photon energy by gold nanopaticles induced a complete decomposition of PMMA, leading to the formation of various microstructures on the nanocomposite films. Chapter 3 reports the further development of a nanoparticle/polymer composite nanofiber material fabricated through an electrospinning process. The matrix of the nanofiber is made of two polyelectrolytes, poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH). Three methods were developed to incorporate gold nanoparticles into the polymer matrix. The composite nanofiber materials developed in this study demonstrate multifunctional properties, including good electrical conductivity, photothermal response, and surface-enhanced IR absorption. This material may be used for many important applications including catalysis, chemical and biological sensors, and scaffold materials for tissue engineering. In Chapter 4, another most important nanomaterial, carbon naotubes (CNTs), were introduced as fillers to prepare polymer nanocomposites. A dispersion method for multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) using a conjugated conducting polymer, poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) as the third component and trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) as a co-solvent was developed. Due to the excellent dispersion of carbon nanotubes in PMMA and enhanced conductivity of the nanocomposites by the conjugated conducting polymers, the prepared composite materials has an extremely low percolation threshold of less than 0.006 wt% of MWCNT content. The potential use of MWCNT/conducting polymer composites for energy storage applications such as suppercapacitors was further investigated by Cyclic Voltammetry (CV), Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) and charging-discharging cycles. Compared to pure carbon nanotubes, the nanocomposite materials have significantly improved properties and are promising for supercapacitor applications.


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Graduation Date



Huo, Qun


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering








Release Date

August 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)