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Branson, Blake
Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Materials Science, Spring 2010

Research Information

Ph.D. Dissertation
Fluids and Polymer Composites Comprising Detonation Nanodiamond Advisor

Ph.D. Committee
Charles Lukehart (Advisor)
Jim Davidson (co-Advisor)
Scott Guelcher
Weng Poo Kang
Alvin Strauss


Abstract. Ultra-dispersed Diamond (UDD) is synthetically produced by the detonation of carbon-containing explosives in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.  UDD, comprised of 5-nm diamond particles, is an attractive nanomaterial because of diamond’s outstanding thermal, chemical, and mechanical properties.  To date, application of UDD additives in fluid and polymer materials has been limited by the strong tendency for the primary diamond nanoparticles to aggregate into structures with sizes ranging from hundreds of nanometers to microns.  Limitations encountered with UDD additives include rapid settling of the aggregates in fluid applications and poor mechanical performance in polymer composites.In this work, a method to separate the UDD aggregates into primary nanodiamond (ND) nanoparticles is demonstrated.  De-aggregation processing techniques are coupled with surface functionalization strategies to disperse ND into fluids and polymeric materials.Nanofluids containing ND exhibit excellent nanoparticle stability and enhanced thermal conductivity.  Multiple functionalization strategies are explored to achieve particle dispersion in polar and non-polar solvents as well as to elucidate how different surface functional groups may affect the thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluid systems. 

Functionalized ND is incorporated into both thermoplastic and thermosetting polymer matrices for enhancement of mechanical properties.  An assortment of surface functionalization strategies is employed to achieve high-quality dispersions and to examine how various interfacial phenomenon can affect macroscopic material properties. 

Vanderbilt University