Graphene/polymer nanocomposite degradation by ultraviolet light: The effects of graphene nanofillers and their potential for release

David G. Goodwin, Shih Jia Shen, Yadong Lyu, Ronald Lankone, Ana C. Barrios, Samir Kabir, François Perreault, Wendel Wohlleben, Tinh Nguyen, Lipiin Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The ultraviolet (UV)-induced degradation of graphene/polymer nanocomposites was investigated in this study. Specifically, the effect of few-layer graphene nanofillers on the degradation of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and the release potential of graphene from the degraded nanocomposite surfaces were assessed. Graphene/TPU (G/TPU) nanocomposites and neat TPU were UV-exposed under both dry and humid conditions in the NIST SPHERE, a precisely controlled, high intensity UV-weathering device. Neat TPU and G/TPU were characterized over the time course of UV exposure using color measurements and infrared spectroscopy, for appearance and chemical changes, respectively. Changes in thickness and surface morphology were obtained with scanning electron microscopy. A new fluorescence quenching measurement approach was developed to identify graphene sheets at the nanocomposite surface, which was supported by contact angle measurements. The potential for graphene release from the nanocomposite surface was evaluated using a tape-lift method followed by microscopy of any particles present on the tape. The findings suggest that graphene improves the service life of TPU with respect to UV exposure, but that graphene becomes exposed at the nanocomposite surface over time, which may potentially lead to its release when exposed to small mechanical forces or upon contact with other materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109365
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Graphene
  • degradation
  • nanoparticle release
  • polymer nanocomposite
  • polyurethane
  • ultraviolet weathering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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