Keywords: polymer nanocomposites, silica functionalisation, emulsion polymerisation, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, dynamic mechanical analysis, nanotechnology, nanofiller dispersion, surface modification, pretreatment, silica nanoparticles, dual step functionalisation, thermal stability, glass transition temperature
Enhanced silica nanocomposite via dual step functionalisation and in–situ polymerisation
Polymer/silica nanocomposites have substantial commercial potential due to their range of useful properties. The dispersion of nanofillers in the polymer matrix is a key factor in determining the composite property enhancement. We introduced a combination of non–covalent and covalent surface modification to pre–treat silica nanoparticles for improved dispersibility and to attach reactive functional groups with polymerisable sites. The dual step functionalisation was found to be more effective than single step approach in improving dispersion. Polymerisation rate and monomer conversion were unaffected by the functionalisation process. The thermal stability, glass transition temperature and mechanical properties of the synthesised composites showed significant enhancements over the bulk polymer.