Abstract

Two types of mineral fillers, talc and mica, were compounded into polypropylene (PP) via a twin-screw extruder. The morphologies and mechanical properties of the resultant composites were investigated. The dispersion of minerals in PP was observed using Focused Ion Beam (FIB) techniques. The particle size distribution (PSD) and aspect ratio (AR) of particles in the polymer phase were obtained from FIB image analysis. It was found that FIB imaging displays directly the micron to mesoscale level dispersion of particles in polymeric composites. The technique has significant potential for characterizing such materials, having some advantages over `traditional' scanning and transmission electron microscopy in terms of generating representative data in a realistic timescale. The PSD and AR distribution and degree of dispersion in the composites give insights into the modification of mechanical properties of the composites studied.

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