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Issue 16, 2011
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A jamming morphology map of polymer blend nanocomposite films

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Abstract

The addition of nanoparticles (NPs) to polymer blends is an attractive route for controlling their morphology. Here, we investigate the phase separation of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) : poly(styrene-ran-acrylonitrile) (SAN) films with thicknesses from 140 nm to 2500 nm and silica NP concentrations from 1 to 10 wt%. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and focused ion beam (FIB) etching combined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) are used to identify the morphology as discrete or bicontinuous. FIB/SEM is introduced as a facile method to locate NPs at the PMMA/SAN interface and construct 3D images of the morphology of thick films. With increasing film thickness, the concentration of NPs required to stabilize a bicontinuous morphology decreases from 10 wt% to 2 wt%. A jamming map of the discrete and bicontinuous morphologies is constructed to examine the interplay between NP concentration and film thickness. The delineation between these jammed morphologies agrees with a simple geometric model based on arranging spherical NPs at the PMMA/SAN interface. The bicontinuous morphology is an especially attractive structure for applications requiring high interfacial area such as organic solar cells, membranes, catalysis, and fuel cells.

Graphical abstract: A jamming morphology map of polymer blend nanocomposite films

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Apr 2011, accepted on 02 Jun 2011 and first published on 01 Jul 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05619K
Citation: Soft Matter, 2011,7, 7262-7268

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    A jamming morphology map of polymer blend nanocomposite films

    S. Gam, A. Corlu, H. Chung, K. Ohno, M. J. A. Hore and R. J. Composto, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 7262
    DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05619K

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