Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

MS Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Xue, Wei

Committee Member 1

Krchnavek, Robert

Committee Member 2

Haas, Francis


Polymer nanocomposites, energy efficiency, material properties


Nanocomposites (Materials); Polymers


Materials Science and Engineering


Polymer nanocomposites represent an area of materials that can yield useful properties not achievable in bulk materials. Not only can they have such properties but also they can be relatively easy to generate. With dwindling fossil fuels there is an increased need for both new methods to harvest energy and to transport the captured energy more effectively. Two separate nanocomposite materials are created to support this work with dramatically different properties, both to aid in energy efficiency. The first is an energy harvesting foam to fully utilize the structural deformability of such a material. A dissolvable sugar scaffold is combined with ex-situ nanocomposite generation to generate an energy harvesting piezoelectric foam made from PDMS-ZnO-CNT. The second material is a cryogenic dielectric to potentially expand the capability of superconducting cables. An in-situ sol-gel method and a standard ex-situ method are both explored to create polyimide-SiO2 dielectrics. The materials are tested with a variety of methods to characterize their structural, mechanical, and electrical properties. The piezoelectric foams yield a maximum electrical voltage of 0.30 V with a Young's modulus of 0.54 MPa and an ultimate tensile strength of 0.27 MPa. The dielectric material successfully withstands 34 kV/mm, and has a maximum tensile strength of 24.42 MPa at room temperature.