Preparation of synergistically reinforced transparent bio-polycarbonate nanocomposites with highly dispersed cellulose nanocrystals
Polycarbonate (PC) is a transparent polymeric material which can replace shattering glass, but bisphenol-A, used for improving its properties, has controversial hazards. An alternative biomass-derived isosorbide (ISB)-based PC can be used owing to its complementary properties. To satisfy the two factors of sustainability and performance simultaneously, this paper proposes the in situ polymerization of ISB pre-dispersed with cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), which directly produces PC nanocomposites, as a facile method for achieving record-high mechanical strength among all types of PCs and their nanocomposites. The proposed nanocomposite is more transparent, exhibits an ultimate tensile strength of 93 MPa and a 4.3-fold increased toughness of 40 MJ m−3, compared to a homo-polymer, and is better than post-blended nanocomposites due to the excellent dispersibility of 0.3 wt% nanofiller. Formidable improvements in in situ PC/CNC nanocomposites originate from the simultaneous contributions of covalent and physical interactions through polymeric grafting on the CNC surface and hydrogen bonding with a polar ISB moiety of PC, in advance, from the monomer dispersion, respectively, enhancing the interfacial interaction with the polymer matrix. This in situ approach opens new possibilities in the field of sustainable plastic industries.