Recent advances in polymer materials design seek to incorporate functionality, enhance existing properties, and reduce weight without compromising mechanical properties or processability. While much attention has been drawn to the development of organic/inorganic hybrid nanocomposites modified with discrete siliceous nanoparticles (such as fumed/colloidal silica or organoclays), other opportunities exist for comparably enlightened materials design. Dibenzylidene sorbitol (DBS) is a sugar derivative that is capable of self-organizing into a 3D nanofibrillar network at relatively low concentrations in a wide variety of organic solvents and polymers. In this work, we explore the morphological characteristics and properties of DBS in poly(ethyl methacrylate) (PEMA) and PEMA nanocomposites with colloidal silica. Transmission electron microscopy and microtomography reveal that the DBS molecules form highly connected networks, with nanofibrils measuring ca. 10 nm in diameter and ranging up to several hundred nanometers in length. Dynamic mechanical property analysis reveals that, while DBS has little effect on glassy PEMA, it serves to increase the elastic modulus in molten PEMA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry