All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Derrick Dean

Advisory Committee Members

Shane A Catledge

Nitin Chopra

Robin Foley

Gregg M Janowski

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


Nanoscale reinforcements offer the possibility of coupling the already proven high strength to weight properties of polymer matrix composites with additional multifunctional properties such as electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, unique optics, UV/IR radiation absorption, and enhanced wear resistance. This work presents materials based on detonation nanodiamonds dispersed in two types of polyethylene. The work begins with an understanding of nucleation phenomena. It was discovered through isothermal kinetics using differential scanning calorimetry that nanodiamonds act as nucleating agents during polyethylene crystallization. A processing technique to disperse nanodiamonds into very viscous ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene was developed and analyzed. These composites were further studied using dynamic mechanical analysis which showed increases in both stiffness and energy absorbing modes over unfilled UHMWPE. Exposure to UV degradation caused a failure of the polymer microstructure which was found to be caused by residual tensile stresses between the polymer particles formed during processing. These high stress regions were more prone to photo oxidation even though the nanodiamond particles were shown to decrease surface oxidation. Additionally, the tribological properties of UHMWPE/nanodiamond composites were investigated. Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene is an already proven ultra tough and wear resistant polymer that is used in many high performance thermoplastic applications such as bearings, surfaces (skids/wheels), ropes/nets, and orthopedic implants. This work showed that UHMWPE loaded with 5.0wt% nanodiamonds might be a candidate to replace the currently used crosslinked polyethylene material used in orthopedic implants.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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