Treatment of inorganic nanoparticles for the incorporation in polymer matrices

Kevin Voges, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
Christian Hübner, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
Miriana Vadalá, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
Doru C. Lupascu, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany

Polymers are used in a variety of fields – from daily domestic uses to high-tech applications. To further enhance the spectrum of polymer properties, inorganic nanoparticles can be incorporated into polymer matrices. This can improve certain material specific properties like hardness, abrasion resistance, thermal conductivity, chemical stability and others. Thus, incorporation of inorganic nanoparticles into polymer matrices is an approved approach to tailor application-oriented materials. A crucial requirement to improve polymer properties is the fine distribution of nanoparticles in the matrices. Therefore, preventing agglomeration or successful deagglomeration of the nanoparticles is very important.

In our work, deagglomeration was performed by high-energy ball milling and sonication. To avoid agglomeration of nanoparticles, the particle surfaces were functionalized to change the surface properties. This also increases the miscibility of nanoparticles with the polymer matrices. We use commercial as well as custom synthesized SiO2, Al2O3 and carbon black nanoparticles for the incorporation into different polymers: polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polyetherimide (PEI) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) among others.

The results of the deagglomeration have been investigated by dynamic light scattering technique (DLS) to compare particle sizes. The success of the functionalisation was analysed by infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). To prepare our samples the polymers were dissolved in the appropriate solvents and then mixed with the particles by stirring. Drying and (hot-) pressing of the mixtures leads to dense and rigid polymer composites with high particle loads (up to 90 wt. % of particles).

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