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Graphene/Polymer Nanocomposite Degradation by Ultraviolet Light: The Effects of Graphene Nanofillers and their Potential for Release



David Goodwin, Shih Jia Shen, Ronald S. Lankone, Wendel Wohlleben, Tinh Nguyen, Li Piin Sung, Francois Perreault, Ana Barrios


The ultraviolet (UV)-induced degradation of graphene/polymer nanocomposites was investigated in this study. Specifically, the effect of few-layer graphene nanofillers on the degradation of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and the release potential of graphene from the degraded nanocomposite surfaces were assessed. Graphene/TPU (G/TPU) nanocomposites and neat TPU were UV-exposed under both dry and humid conditions in the NIST SPHERE, a precisely controlled, high intensity UV-weathering device. Neat TPU and G/TPU were characterized over the time course of UV exposure using color measurements and infrared spectroscopy, for appearance and chemical changes, respectively. Changes in thickness and surface morphology were obtained with scanning electron microscopy. A new fluorescence quenching measurement approach was developed to identify graphene sheets at the nanocomposite surface, which was supported by contact angle measurements. The potential for graphene release from the nanocomposite surface was evaluated using a tape-lift method followed by microscopy of any particles present on the tape. The findings suggest that graphene improves the service life of TPU with respect to UV exposure, but that graphene becomes exposed at the nanocomposite surface over time, which may potentially lead to its release when exposed to small mechanical forces or upon contact with other materials.
Polymer Degradation and Stability


Graphene, polymer nanocomposite, polyurethane, ultraviolet weathering, degradation, nanoparticle release


Goodwin, D. , Shen, S. , Lankone, R. , Wohlleben, W. , Nguyen, T. , Sung, L. , Perreault, F. and Barrios, A. (2020), Graphene/Polymer Nanocomposite Degradation by Ultraviolet Light: The Effects of Graphene Nanofillers and their Potential for Release, Polymer Degradation and Stability, [online],, (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created September 10, 2020, Updated October 14, 2021