This feature article discusses the main factors determining the properties of polymer nanocomposites with special attention paid to structure and interactions. Usually more complicated structure develops in nanocomposites than in traditional particulate filled polymers, and that is especially valid for composites prepared from plate-like nanofillers. Besides the usually assumed exfoliated/intercalated morphology, i.e. individual platelets and tactoids, such nanocomposites often contain large particles, and a network structure developing at large extent of exfoliation. Aggregation and orientation are the most important structural phenomena in nanotube or nanofiber reinforced composites, and ag-gregation is a major problem also in composites prepared with spherical particles. The surface characteristics of nanofillers and interactions are rarely determined or known; the related problems are discussed in the paper in detail. The surface of these reinforcements is modified practically always. The goal of the modification is to improve dispersion and/or adhesion in nanotube and spherical particle reinforced composites, and to help exfoliation in nanocomposites containing platelets. However, modification decreases surface energy often leading to decreased interaction with the matrix. Very limited information exists about interphase formation and the properties of the interphase in nanocomposites, although they must influence properties considerably. The properties of nanocomposites are usually far from the expectations, the main reason being insufficient homogeneity, undefined structure and improper adhesion. In spite of considerable difficulties nanocomposites have great potentials especially in functional applications. Several nanocomposite products are already used in industrial practice demonstrated by a few examples in the article.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)