Reactive molding and self-assembly techniques for controlling the interface and dispersion of the particulate phase in nanocomposites.

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Pranger, Lawrence A.
Tannenbaum, Rina
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This research explored the processing and properties of PNCs using a polyfurfural alcohol (PFA) matrix. The precursor for PFA, furfuryl alcohol (FA) is sourced from feedstocks rich in hemicellulose, such as corn cobs, oat hulls and wood. To exploit FA as a polymerizable solvent, cellulose whiskers (CW) and montmorillonite clay (MMT) were used as the nanoparticle phase. Results from PNC processing show that CW and MMT can be dispersed in the PFA matrix by means of insitu polymerization, without the use of surfactants or dilution in solvents. Both CW and MMT nanoparticles catalyze the polymerization of furfuryl alcohol (FA). Moreover, the insitu intercalative polymerization of FA in the interlayer galleries of MMT leads to the complete exfoliation of the MMT in the PFA matrix. CW and MMT both function as effective matrix modifiers, increasing the thermal stability of PFA nanocomposites compared to pure PFA polymer. The increased thermal stability is seen as significant increases in the onset of degradation and in residual weight at high temperature. This research also explored the surface functionalization of Cu, Ni and Pt substrates by self-assembly of a range of difunctional linker molecules. Characterization by XPS and PM-IRRAS indicate that diisocyanides and dicarboxylic acids both form chemically "sticky" surfaces after self-assembly on Cu and Ni. Sticky surfaces may provide a means of increasing nanoparticle dispersion in metal nanocluster filled PNCs, by increasing their interaction with the matrix polymer. Another potential application for sticky surfaces on Cu is in the ongoing miniaturization of circuit boards. The functionalization of Cu bond pad substrates with linker molecules may provide an alternate means of bonding components to their bond pads, with higher placement accuracy compared to solder bumps.
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