Glassy polymer nanocomposites, or PNCs, are sought-after materials with hard filler nanoparticles dispersed throughout their soft polymer matrices. While studying why PNCs demonstrate certain advantageous properties, researchers tried mixing in short and long chains of the same polymer.
“We found that by adding a small amount of the short polymer chains, the resulting mechanical properties were improved by 20%,” ORNL’s Vera Bocharova said. “This is good for practical applications.”
Experimental data and computer simulations revealed that changes to polymer-nanoparticle interactions, polymer stretching, and density at nanoparticles’ interfaces were responsible for the enhanced properties. The study results can be universally applied to PNCs and may help researchers design future materials with desired qualities.
Read the original article on Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).