Nanosheet materials, like graphene and especially exfoliated TMDCs (transition-metal-dichalcogenides) like MoS2 (molybdenum disulfide), are finding practical applications as nanoscale reinforcements in polymers, but there remain hundreds of unexplored reinforcement systems. Following previous inquiry into tellurium (Te) nanocomposites, similar compounds were exfoliated and characterized to analyze their utility in nanocomposite systems. A surface engineering technique was developed to enable exfoliation and etching of some tellurides in pure water, which were reduced in hydrogen gas, increasing their surface area. Based on these findings, an engineered-telluride-nylon nanocomposite could exceed the performance of other TMDC reinforcements to toughen polymer composite systems.
An emerging class of composite materials, known as nanocomposites, promises to realize the novel and often unparalleled performance of nanoscale structures (graphene, etc.) on a macroscopic scale. Polymers currently represent one of the most promising materials for reinforcement because they can be produced and processed at low temperatures. The research objective is to explore the currently under-explored characteristics of chalcogenide nanocomposites, which refer to nanoscale sulfur, selenium, and tellurium compounds. Specifically, telluride nanomaterials will be in situ-intercalated (mixed during polymerization) into a Nylon 6 polymer to compare their properties to existing nanocomposites and establish the effects of chalcogenide reinforcement.