Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Chemical Engineering (MChE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Eric A. Grulke


Ultrathin film nanocomposites are becoming increasingly important for specialized performance of commercial coatings. Critical challenges for ultrathin film nanocomposites include their synthesis and characterization as well as their performance properties, including surface roughness, optical properties (haze, refractive index as examples), and mechanical properties. The objective of this work is to control the surface roughness of ultrathin film nanocomposites by changing the average particle size and the particle volume fraction (loading) of monomodal particle size distributions. This work evaluated one-layer and two-layer films for their surface properties. Monodispersed colloidal silica nanoparticles were incorporated into an acrylate-based monomer system as the model system. Ultrathin nanocomposites were prepared with three different size colloidal silica (13, 45, and 120 nm nominal diameters) at three different particle loadings (20, 40, and 50 vol. % inorganic solids). Silica particles were characterized using DLS and TEM. AFM was used to measure the root mean square roughness (Rq), ΔZ, and location-to-location uniformity of one-layer and two-layer nanocomposite coatings. Developing an understanding about the properties affected by the type and amount of particles used in a nanocomposite can be used as a tool with nanocharacterization techniques to quickly modify and synthesize desired ultrathin film coatings.