Hybrid Inorganic-Organic Materials: Novel Poly(Propylene Oxide) Based Ceramers, Abrasion Resistant Sol-Gel Coatings for Metals, and Epoxy-Clay Nanocomposites. With an Additional Chapter On: Metallocene Catalyzed Linear Polyethylene

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Virginia Tech

The sol-gel process has been employed to generate hybrid inorganic-organic network materials. Unique ceramers were prepared based on an alkoxysilane functionalized soft organic oligomer, poly(propylene oxide) (PPO), and tetramethoxysilane (TMOS). Despite the formation of covalent bonds between the inorganic and organic constituents, the resulting network materials were phase separated, composed of a silicate rich phase embedded in a matrix of the organic oligomer chains. The behavior of such materials was similar to elastomers containing a reinforcing filler. The study focused on the influence of initial oligomer molecular weight, functionality, and tetramethoxysilane, water, and acid catalyst content on the final structure, mechanical and thermal properties. The sol-gel approach has also been exploited to generate thin, transparent, abrasion resistant coatings for metal substrates. These systems were based on alkoxysilane functionazized diethylenetriamine (DETA) with TMOS, which generated hybrid networks with very high crosslink densities. These materials were applied with great success as abrasion resistant coatings to aluminum, copper, brass, and stainless steel. In another study, intercalated polymer-clay nanocomposites were prepared based on various epoxy networks montmorillonite clay. This work explored the influence of incorporated clay on the adhesive properties of the epoxies. The lap shear strength decreased with increasing clay content. This was due to a reduction in the toughness of the epoxy. Also, the delaminated (or exfoliated) nanocomposite structure could not be generated. Instead, all nanocomposite systems possessed an intercalated structure.

The final project involved the characterization of a series of metallocene catalyzed linear polyethylenes, produced at Phillips Petroleum. Polyolefins synthesized with such new catalyst systems are becoming widely available. The influence of molecular weight and thermal treatment on the mechanical, rheological, and thermal behavior was probed. Although the behavior of this series of metallocene polyethylenes was not unlike that of traditionally catalyzed materials, this work is one of the first comprehensive studies of these new linear polyethylenes. The main distinction between the metallocene and traditional Ziegler-Natta catalyzed polyethylenes is the narrow molecular weight distributions produced by the former (for this series of materials, 2.3< Mw  Mn <3.6).

Ceramer, sol-gel, abrasion resistant coatings, p