• Nanoscale confinement and interfacial effects on the dynamics and glass transition/crystallinity of thin adsorbed films on silica nanoparticles.

      Wunder, Stephanie L.; Varnum, Susan A.; Strongin, Daniel R.; Ilies, Marc A. (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      The research investigated in this dissertation has focused on understanding the structure-property-function relationships of polymer nanocomposites. The properties of composite systems are dictated by the properties of their components, typically fillers in a polymer matrix. In nanocomposites, the polymer near an interface has significantly different properties compared with the bulk polymer, and the contribution of the adsorbed polymer to composite properties becomes increasingly important as the filler size decreases. Despite many reports of highly favorable properties, the behavior of polymer nanocomposites is not generally predictable, and thus requires a better understanding of the interfacial region. The ability to tailor the filler/matrix interaction and an understanding of the impact of the interface on macroscopic properties are keys in the design of nanocomposite properties. In this original work the surface of silica nanoparticles was tailored by: a) Changing the number of sites for polymer attachment by varying the surface silanols and, b) By varying the size/curvature of nanoparticles. The effect of surface tailoring on the dynamic properties after the adsorption of two model polymers, amorphous polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and semicrystalline polyethylene oxide (PEO) was observed. The interphase layer of polymers adsorbed to silica surfaces is affected by the surface silanol density as well as the relative size of the polymer compared with the size of the adsorbing substrate. The non-equilibrium adsorption of PMMA onto individual colloidal Stöber silica (SiO2) particles, where Rparticle (100nm) > RPMMA (~6.5nm) was compared with the adsorption onto fumed silica, where Rparticle (7nm) ~ RPMMA (6.5nm) < Aggregate (~1000nm), both as a function of silanol density [SiOH] and hydrophobility. In the former case, TEM images showed that the PMMA adsorbed onto individual nanoparticles, so that the number of PMMA chains/bead could be calculated, whereas in the latter case bridging of PMMA between aggregates occurred. The anchoring point densities were comparable to the silanol densities, suggesting that PMMA adsorbed as trains rather than loops. For hydrophilic SiO2, Tg increased with [SiOH], as more carbonyl groups hydrogen bonded to the silanols, and was independent of particle morphology. For methylated silica, (CH3)3-SiO2, the adsorption isotherms were identical for colloidal and fumed silica, but Tg was depressed for the former, and comparable to the bulk value for the latter. The increased Tg of PMMA adsorbed onto fumed (CH3)3-SiO2 was attributed to the larger loops formed by the bridging PMMA chains between the silica aggregates. For nanocomposites the interphase region becomes more important as the surface/volume ratio of the nanoparticles increases. Polymers have chain dimensions (characterized by the radius of gyration, Rg) similar to the nanoparticles (Rnanoparticle) themselves, so that chain conformation, mobility and crystallinity can be affected by Rg/Rnanoparticle. Here, both the glass transition temperature (Tg) and degree of crystallinity (Xc) of polyethylene oxide (PEO) on individual SiO2 nanoparticles of nominal 15, 50 and 100 nm diameter (2 RSiO2) , in which Rg (PEO) was greater, equal to or less than RSiO2 was investigated. Plateau adsorption of PEO on SiO2 nanoparticles (PEO-SiO2) increased in the order PEO-SiO2 (100 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (50 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (15 nm). At plateau adsorption after melting and solidification, the samples were completely amorphous. The Tg of the adsorbed PEO increased in the order PEO-SiO2 (100 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (50 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (15 nm); since the Tgs were above 25oC in all cases, the PEO behaved more like a brittle solid than an elastomer. For comparable amounts of PEO that were adsorbed from solution but not melted, the melt endotherm increased in the order PEO-SiO2 (15 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (50 nm) > PEO-SiO2 (100 nm). These trends were interpreted as due to an increase in loop/tail lengths and thus flexibility, with a concomitant ability to crystallize, as Rg (PEO)/RSiO2 decreased and which was the result of less hydrogen bond formation between the oxygens of PEO and the silanols (SiOH) of the SiO2 as the nanoparticle size decreased. This in turn was attributed to the energetically unfavorable conformations necessary for the PEO chains to adopt in order to hydrogen bond with silanols on the smaller nanoparticles. The degradation behavior of amorphous PMMA and semicrystalline PEO on silica (SiO2) nanoparticles as a function of silanol density and nanoparticle size was investigated by derivative thermogravimetric analysis (DTGA) for adsorption amounts below plateau adsorption. For PMMA Td decreased as the number of SiOH/C=O contacts decreased, either from heat treatment of the SiO2, which reduced the silanol density, or as the nanoparticle size decreased, reducing the numbers of places that the PMMA chain contacted the nanoparticles.