Novel nanocomposites for dielectric applications-based polypropylene/poly(ethylene-co-octene) (PP/POE) blends filled with nano silica are developed in the framework of the European ‘GRIDABLE’ project. A tailor-made low-pressure-plasma reactor was applied in this study for an organic surface modification of silica. Acetylene gas was used as the monomer for plasma polymerization in order to deposit a hydrocarbon layer onto the silica surface. The aim of this modification is to increase the compatibility between silica and the PP/POE blends matrix in order to improve the dispersion of the filler in the polymer matrix and to suppress the space charge accumulation by altering the charge trapping properties of these silica/PP/POE blends composites. The conditions for the deposition of the acetylene plasma-polymer onto the silica surface were optimized by analyzing the modification in terms of weight loss by thermogravimetry (TGA). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (EDX) measurements confirmed the presence of hydrocarbon compounds on the silica surface after plasma modification. The acetylene plasma modified silica with the highest deposition level was selected to be incorporated into the PP/POE blends matrix. X-ray diffraction (XRD) showed that there is no new crystal phase formation in the PP/POE blends nanocomposites after addition of the acetylene plasma modified silica. Differential scanning calorimetry results (DSC) show two melting peaks and two crystallization peaks of the PP/POE blends nanocomposites corresponding to the PP and POE domains. The improved dispersion of the silica after acetylene plasma modification in the PP/POE blends matrix was shown by means of SEM–EDX mapping. Thermally stimulated depolarization current (TSDC) measurements confirm that addition of the acetylene plasma modified silica affects the charge trapping density and decreases the amount of injected charges into PP/POE blends nanocomposites. This work shows that acetylene plasma modification of the silica surface is a promising route to tune charge trapping properties of PP/POE blend-based nanocomposites.
- Acetylene plasma modification
- Nano silica
- Dielectric nanocomposites