Assessment of nanoparticle loading and dispersion in polymeric materials using optical coherence tomography

W. R. Broughton*, T. Koukoulas, P. Woolliams, J. Williams, S. S. Rahatekar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The inclusion of small concentrations of nanoparticles can significantly enhance the thermal and electrical properties, and to a lesser degree the mechanical performance, of polymers. Dispersion of nanoparticles during mixing is problematic, with poor mixing resulting in particle agglomeration (i.e. particle clustering), which subsequently limits the potential for property enhancement. Achieving good dispersion is considered key to large-scale production and commercialization of polymer nanocomposites (PNCs), and a measurement technique capable of quantitatively characterizing particle loading and dispersion would significantly enhance product development. This paper presents the results of a study using a static light scattering technique, Fourier domain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT), for discriminating between different particle loadings and levels of dispersion. The technique has been applied to a range of PNCs including epoxy resins reinforced with nanoclay platelets, silica microspheres or multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), and zinc oxide and lithium aluminate reinforced polypropylene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1290-1298
Number of pages9
JournalPolymer Testing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2013


  • Dispersion
  • Loading
  • Nanoparticles Optical characterization
  • Particle
  • Polymer nanocomposites


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