PITA Fiscal Year 2008 Projects - Nanotechnology

Null-Scattering Core-Shell Particles for Transparent Protective Polymer Coating Applications

Principal Investigators: Michael R. Bockstaller, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski

Polymer thin films are of key relevance in technological applications such as microelectronic manufacturing, protective and optical coatings, however, key challenges exist in maintaining structural stability as the film thickness decreases below about 100 nm – the typical lengthscale of a polymer molecule. Nanoparticle additives are prime candidates to improve on the film properties, however, only if the particle morphology and interaction within the polymer matrix can be controlled and optical transparency of the film can be maintained. The scientific objective of this proposal is to understand the effect of nanoparticle additives on the thermomechanical and optical characteristics of particle-filled polymer thin films. By capitalizing on recent advances in the synthesis of particle additives with controlled optical scattering properties using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) a series of model particle additives will be synthesized to specifically address the following questions: (1) what is the effect of attractive enthalpic interactions on the particle miscibility in polymer host materials, (2) what is the effect of the particles’ optical characteristics (i.e. refractive index and volume fraction of core and shell) as well as the particles’ dispersion morphology on the associated optical scattering properties and (3) what is the effect of compatibilized particle additives on the thermomechanical properties of thin polymer films, in particular, how do the thermomechanical properties of polymer nanocomposite thin films depend on the particle architecture? The technical aim of this project is to develop polymer/particle nanocomposite materials that combine optical transparency with increased wear- and corrosion resistance. Our industrial partner – ATRP Solutions – will develop methodologies to scale interesting material compositions for the technical evaluation under realistic process conditions.

The project will enhance student education at CMU by facilitating the development of experimental modules for a novel course on nanotechnology as well as future research projects within the MSE Capstone course.