3 years ago

Polycaprolactone Nanocomposites Reinforced with Cellulose Nanocrystals Surface-Modified via Covalent Grafting or Physisorption: A Comparative Study

Polycaprolactone Nanocomposites Reinforced with Cellulose Nanocrystals Surface-Modified via Covalent Grafting or Physisorption: A Comparative Study
Assya Boujemaoui, Joakim Engström, Eva Malmström, Carl Bruce, Carmen Cobo Sanchez, Linda Fogelström, Anna Carlmark
In the present work, cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) have been surface-modified either via covalent grafting or through physisorption of poly(n-butyl methacrylate) (PBMA) and employed as reinforcement in PCL. Covalent grafting was achieved by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP). Two approaches were utilized for the physisorption: using either micelles of poly(dimethyl aminoethyl methacrylate)-block-poly(n-butyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA-b-PBMA) or latex nanoparticles of poly(dimethyl aminoethyl methacrylate-co-methacrylic acid)-block-poly(n-butyl methacrylate) (P(DMAEMA-co-MAA)-b-PBMA). Block copolymers (PDMAEMA-b-PBMA)s were obtained by ATRP and subsequently micellized. Latex nanoparticles were produced via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) mediated surfactant-free emulsion polymerization, employing polymer-induced self-assembly (PISA) for the particle formation. For a reliable comparison, the amounts of micelles/latex particles adsorbed and the amount of polymer grafted onto the CNCs were kept similar. Two different chain lengths of PBMA were targeted, below and above the critical molecular weight for chain entanglement of PBMA (Mn,c ∼ 56 000 g mol–1). Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) nanocomposites reinforced with unmodified and modified CNCs in different weight percentages (0.5, 1, and 3 wt %) were prepared via melt extrusion. The resulting composites were evaluated by UV–vis, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and tensile testing. All materials resulted in higher transparency, greater thermal stability, and stronger mechanical properties than unfilled PCL and nanocomposites containing unmodified CNCs. The degradation temperature of PCL reinforced with grafted CNCs was higher than that of micelle-modified CNCs, and the latter was higher than that of latex-adsorbed CNCs with a long PBMA chain length. The results clearly indicate that covalent grafting is superior to physisorption with regard to thermal and mechanical properties of the final nanocomposite. This unique study is of great value for the future design of CNC-based nanocomposites with tailored properties.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b09009

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b09009

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