Strain- and field-induced anisotropy in hybrid elastomers with elongated filler nanoparticles†
The implementation of anisotropy to functional materials is a key step towards future smart materials. In this work, we evaluate the influence of preorientation and sample architecture on the strain-induced anisotropy in hybrid elastomers containing covalently attached elongated magnetic filler particles. Accordingly, silica coated spindle-type hematite nanoparticles are incorporated into poly(dimethylsiloxane)-based elastomers, and two types of composite architectures are compared: on the one hand a conventional architecture of filled, covalently crosslinked elastomers, and on the other hybrid elastomers that are crosslinked exclusively by covalent attachment of the polymer chains to the particle surface. By the application of external strain and with magnetic fields, the orientational order of the elongated nanoparticles can be manipulated, and we investigate the interplay between strain, magnetic order, and orientational order of the particles by combining 2D small angle X-ray scattering experiments under strain and fields with Mössbauer spectroscopy under similar conditions, and supplementary angular-dependent magnetization experiments. The converging information is used to quantify the order in these interesting materials, while establishing a direct link between the magnetic properties and the spatial orientation of the embedded magnetic nanoparticles.