Tailoring Intermolecular Interactions for High-Performance Nanocomposites

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Virginia Tech


Acid oxidation of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) introduced carboxylic acid sites onto the MWCNT surface, which permitted further functionalization. Derivatization of carboxylic acid sites yielded amide-amine and amide-urea functionalized MWCNTs from oxidized precursors. Conventional MWCNT characterization techniques including X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and Raman spectroscopy supported successful MWCNT functionalization. Incorporation of MWCNTs functionalized with hydrogen bonding groups into a segmented polyurethane matrix led to an increase in mechanical properties at optimized MWCNT loadings, in contrast with non-functionalized MWCNTs that resulted in mechanical property decreases across all loadings. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) demonstrated an increase in the polyurethane-MWCNT composite flow temperature with increasing hydrogen bonding MWCNT incorporation, as opposed to non-functionalized MWCNT composites which displayed no significant change in flow temperature. Variable temperature Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (VT FT-IR) probed temperature-dependent hydrogen bonding in the polyurethane-MWCNT composites and revealed a significant impact on composite hydrogen bonding interactions upon MWCNT incorporation, which was amplified in composites formed using hydrogen bonding functionalized MWCNTs.

Acid oxidation of carbon nanohorns (CNHs) yielded carboxylic acid functionalized CNHs, providing sites for further reaction with histamine to afford histamine-functionalized CNHs (His-CNHs). Raman spectroscopy, XPS and TGA confirmed successful functionalization.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated that His-CNHs efficiently complex quantum dots (QDs) through imidazole-Zn interactions. Combination of His-CNHs, QDs, and a poly(oligo-(ethylene glycol9) methyl ether methacrylate)-block-poly(4-vinyl imidazole) copolymer using an interfacial complexation technique afforded stable ternary nanocomplexes with average hydrodynamic diameters under 100 nm. These ternary nanocomplexes represent promising materials for photothermal cancer theranostics due to their size and stability.

The efficient reaction of 2-isocyanatoethyl methacrylate with amines afforded urea-containing methacrylic monomers, where the amine-derived pendant groups determined the polymer Tg. Reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) polymerization enabled the synthesis of ABA triblock copolymers with urea-containing methacrylic outer blocks and poly(2-ethylhexyl methacrylate) inner blocks. These ABA triblocks copolymers displayed composition dependent phase-separated morphologies and desirable mechanical properties. The urea-containing polymers efficiently complexed gold nanoparticles through urea-gold interactions. Furthermore, urea-containing methacrylic polymers served as a useful matrix for incorporation of silica-coated upconverting nanoparticles, affording upconverting nanoparticle composite films.The novel ionene monomer N1,N2-bis(3-(dimethylamino)propyl)oxalamide permitted synthesis of novel oxalamide-containing ammonium ionenes. The hydrogen bonding, charge density, and counter anion tuned the ionene mechanical properties. The ionene structure also influenced water uptake and conductivity. The differences in physical properties correlated well with the morphology observed in small-angle X-ray scattering. The oxalamide-containing ionenes greatly enhance mechanical properties compared to typical ammonium ionenes, and further expand the library of ionene polymers.



polymer nanocomposites, carbon nanomaterials, nanoparticles