Electrorheology of SI-ATRP-modified graphene oxide particles with poly(butyl methacrylate): effect of reduction and compatibility with silicone oil
Surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) was used to modify graphene oxide (GO) particles with poly(butyl methacrylate) (PBMA) chains. This procedure facilitated the single-step fabrication of a hybrid material with tailored conductivity for the preparation of a suspension in silicone oil with enhanced sedimentation stability and improved electrorheological (ER) activity. PBMA was characterized using various techniques, such as gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and 1H NMR spectroscopy. Thermogravimetric analysis through on-line investigation of the Fourier transform infrared spectra, together with transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, were successfully used to confirm GO surface modification. The ER performance was investigated using optical microscopy images and steady shear rheometry, and the mechanism of the internal chain-like structure formation was elucidated. The dielectric properties confirmed enhanced ER performance owing to an increase in relaxation strength to 1.36 and decrease in relaxation time to 5 × 10−3 s. The compatibility between GO and silicone oil was significantly influenced by covalently bonded PBMA polymer brushes on the GO surface, showing enhanced compatibility with silicone oil, which resulted in the considerably improved sedimentation stability. Furthermore, a controlled degree of reduction of the GO surface ensured that the suspension had improved ER properties.