Background: Polymer matrix-based composites are the workhorse of the composite industries.
Besides, the idea of modifying the polymer matrix by various inorganic fillers has greatly drawn
the attention of materials engineers due to their diversified applications and advanced properties.
Objective: The objective of this work was to prepare and characterize Titania (TiO2) and Silica (SiO2)
nanoparticles and develop 1wt%, 3wt%, 5wt% and 10wt% TiO2 and SiO2 incorporated epoxy-based
nanocomposites. Here, we used TiO2 incorporated epoxy composites as a model to compare the effectiveness
and contribution of locally available nano SiO2 in the epoxy matrix.
Method: The TiO2 nanoparticles were prepared by most famous and conventional sol-gel method and
SiO2 nanoparticles were extracted from Padma river (silica) sand obtained from Rajshahi city, Bangladesh
from a very easy and inexpensive route. Both TiO2/epoxy and SiO2/epoxy nanocomposites (approximately
1.3-1.5 mm thick) were prepared via a solution casting method incorporating the TiO2
and SiO2 nanofillers in the epoxy matrix.
Results: The XRD patterns and SEM image ensure the formation of TiO2 and SiO2 nanoparticles. A
number of tests reveal that mechanical properties especially hardness and young’s modulus of the
nanocomposites have increased while decreasing the tensile and flexural strength than neat epoxy due
to the incorporation of nanofiller. It is visible that, TiO2/epoxy nanocomposites have shown better performance
than the virgin epoxy but surprisingly in most cases, nano SiO2 exhibited comparable and
even better contribution than TiO2/epoxy nanocomposites. This indicates that the use of TiO2 in epoxy
might be replaced by inexpensive nano SiO2 to be used in various structural sectors.
Conclusion: The TiO2 and SiO2 nanoparticles were synthesized successfully. The preliminary experiments
predict that the addition of nanoparticles (TiO2, SiO2) converts the composite from being ductile
into a brittle material where SiO2/epoxy shows comparable performance with TiO2/epoxy nanocomposites.