Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Julie P. Harmon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sylvia Thomas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jianfeng Cai, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Theresa Evans-Nguyen, Ph.D.


Carbon Black, Nanoparticles, Nanosilica, Nanosilver, Polycarbonate Polyurethane, Soft Thermoplastic Urethane


This dissertation focuses on the versatility and integrity of a novel, ultrasoft polycarbonate polyurethane (PCPU) by the introduction of nanoparticles and lithium salts. Additionally, the research takes into account the use of electrospinning as a technique to create PCPU and polyimide (PI) fibers. These polymers are of interest as they offer a wide range of properties and uses within the medical and industrial fields.

An industrial batch of an ultrasoft thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) was synthesized using a two-step process. The first was to create an end capped pre-polymer from methylene bis (4-cyclohexylisocyanate), and a polycarbonate polyol made up of 1,6- hexanediol and 3-methyl-1,5-pentanediol. The second step was done by reacting the pre-polymer with an excess of the polycarbonate polyol with a chain extender, 1,4-butanediol. Biocompatibility testing such as USP Class VI, MEM Elution Cytotoxicity and Hemolysis toxicology reported that PCPU showed no toxicity. This novel type of polyurethane material targets growing markets of biocompatible polymers and has been used for peristaltic pump tubing, but also can be utilized as balloon catheters, enteral feeding tubes and medical equipment gaskets and seals. This material is ideal for replacing materials such as soft plastisols containing diethylhexyl phthalate for use in biomedical and industrial applications. After extensive characterization of this polymer system another dimension was added to this research.

The addition of nanoparticles and nanofillers to polyurethane can express enhanced mechanical, thermal and adhesion properties. The incorporation of nanoparticles such as nanosilica, nanosilver and carbon black into polyurethane materials showed improved tensile strength, thermal performance and adhesion properties of the PCPU. Samples were characterized using contact angle measurements, Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), parallel plate rheology and tensile testing.

The second chapter entails the fabrication and characterization of PCPU nanofibers and nanomembranes through a process known as electrospinning. The resulting PCPU nanomembranes showed a crystalline peak from the WAXS profile which is due to electrospun and solution strain induced crystallinity. The PCPU nanocomposite nanomembranes displayed increased thermal stability and an increase in tensile performance at higher weight percent. The nanomembranes were investigated using contact angle measurements, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), DSC, WAXS, SAXS and tensile testing.

The final chapter focuses on investigating the rheological properties of PCPU/lithium electrolytes as well as transforming an unprocessable polyimide powder into a nanomembrane. The PCPU/ lithium composite electrolyte showed an increase in the activation energy and conductivity, while the PI/lithium showed increased conductivity over time. Dynamic mechanical analysis and four-point probe was used to investigate the samples.