Largely improved fracture toughness of an immiscible poly(l-lactide)/ethylene-co-vinyl acetate blend achieved by adding carbon nanotubes
In this work, different contents of CNTs were introduced into an immiscible poly(L-lactide)/ethylene-co-vinyl acetate (PLLA/EVA) blend that exhibited a sea-island structure to further demonstrate the toughening probability of CNTs on the immiscible polymer blends. The fracture toughness was evaluated through impact measurements. The impact-fractured surface morphologies as well as the morphological changes of the blend induced by adding CNTs were characterized using scanning electron microscope. Furthermore, rheological properties and glass transition behaviors of samples were comparatively investigated to better understand the toughening mechanisms. The results demonstrated that although the presence of CNTs resulted in the formation of EVA particles with irregular shape and simultaneously increased diameters and matrix ligament thickness, which were usually thought to be unfavorable for the improvement of fracture toughness according to the Wu's toughening mechanism, the blend composites still exhibited largely enhanced fracture toughness compared with the binary blend, and the impact strength increased gradually with increasing content of CNTs. The plastic deformation ability of PLLA matrix during the fracture process was greatly enhanced, especially when CNTs formed the physical network structure. Further results demonstrated that the glass transition behavior of EVA particles was greatly influenced by CNTs. Then, the toughening mechanism was proposed on the basis of the morphological changes of EVA particles, the formation of CNT physical network structure and the glass transition behavior of EVA. The other mechanical properties were also measured and analyzed. This work further demonstrated the toughening effect of CNTs on the immiscible polymer blends, and the methodology can be widely adopted in industry application.