Controlling the morphology of immiscible cocontinuous polymer blends via silica nanoparticles jammed at the interface

Sijia Huang, Lian Bai, Milana Trifkovic, Xiang Cheng, Christopher W. Macosko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cocontinuous polymer blends have wide applications. They can form conductive plastics with improved mechanical properties. When one phase is extracted, they yield porous polymer sheets, which can be used as filters or membrane supports. However, the cocontinuous morphology is intrinsically unstable due to coarsening during static annealing. In this study, silica nanoparticles, 100 nm diameter, with different wetting properties were melt compounded in polyethylene/poly(ethylene oxide) blends. Calculated wetting coefficients of these particles match well with their phase contact angles and their locations in the blends. We demonstrated that a monolayer of particles jamming at interfaces can effectively suppress coarsening and stabilize the cocontinuous morphology. We also correlated the wettability of individual particles at interface to their coarsening suppression ability and found that the most hydrophobic silica nanoparticle is the most effective to arrest coarsening. Moreover, during annealing, we used the rheological dynamic time sweep, a facial but sensitive method, to relate the morphology change with particle dispersion on the interface. We further corroborated these measurements by scanning electron microscopy and confocal microscopy imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3911-3918
Number of pages8
JournalMacromolecules
Volume49
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 24 2016

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