Macroporous poly(dicyclopentadiene) γFe2O3/Fe3O4 nanocomposite foams by high internal phase emulsion templating†
The high internal phase emulsion (HIPE) templating approach to macroporous poly(dicyclopentadiene) γFe2O3/Fe3O4 nanocomposite foams via ring opening metathesis polymerisation was elaborated and the influence of the formulation of the HIPE on structural and mechanical properties of the magnetic composite foams of 80% nominal porosity was studied. HIPEs solely stabilized with the nanoparticles resulted in considerably shrunken monolithic specimens characterized by an open cellular morphology with cavities bigger than 265 μm. Nanoparticles were situated in the bulk and on the surface of the polymeric foam skeleton. Precise control over the feature sizes could not be obtained in this case. In contrast, HIPE formulations co-stabilized with a surfactant yielded samples of good casting quality characterized by a fully open cellular morphology in all cases. The cavity and the window size could be controlled by the amount of surfactant in the emulsion. A low surfactant loading of 1.5 v% with respect to the monomer yielded diameters of the cavities of the order of 20 μm interconnected with windows with diameters in the order of 4 μm, while 10 v% surfactant resulted in smaller cavities (10 μm) and windows (2 μm). All these feature sizes are hardly affected by the nanoparticle loading which was varied from 1 to 30 wt%. Surfactant stabilized and cured HIPEs featured the nanoparticles predominantly on the surface of the cavities. Mechanical properties of the composite foams were assessed by stress–strain tests and revealed a strengthening of the foams prepared with 10 v% surfactant upon addition of the nanoparticles. Indicative of the strengthening is an increase of the Young's modulus from 13 ± 2 MPa in the case of a sample without nanoparticles to 104 ± 4 MPa in the case of the composite foam with 15 wt% nanoparticles. This trend was accompanied by a decrease of the elongation at break from 21 ± 4 to less than 1%. Specimens prepared with 1.5 v% surfactant are ductile and gave the same high Young's modulus (104 ± 9 MPa) irrespective of the nanoparticle loading and became stronger upon raising the nanoparticle amount reaching an ultimate strength of 3.4 ± 0.4 MPa at an elongation at break of 13 ± 4%.