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Arrangement of Nanoparticles in Phase Separated Systems (ANAPHASES)
Start date: Dec 6, 2007, End date: Dec 5, 2008 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Controlled arrangement of inorganic nanoparticles in polymeric matrixes is a crucial key in the generation of advanced nanocomposites for new technological applications. The controlled combination of nanoparticles with a host polymer offer tremendous options for the development of composites possessing novel catalytic, conductive, magnetic or optical properties. The extraordinary characteristics of these composites arise from the synergism between the properties of the components and from the interaction between nanoparticles and matrix. For this reason, the isolation of new routes for driving organic polymers and inorganic particles to assemble into nanocomposites is today considered a particularly important scientific challenge. Here, we propose a different and completely novel way to tackle the problem of controlled dispersion through the use of polymerization induced phase separation (PIPS). In this approach, nanoparticles coated with different organic or inorganic stabilizers will be initially dispersed in a reactive solvent. This solvent will be formed by a polymeric precursor (an epoxy monomer and an initiator) and a second component that phase separates during the polymerization reaction. By proper selection of the nanoparticle stabilizer, dispersion in the initial reactive solution and subsequent preferential migration of the particles to one of the separated phases would be achieved. The wide number of modifier/matrix combinations and the easy tuning of polymerization variables would make possible the rational design of a high variety of morphologies, reinforcing the value of the proposed approach. Potential short term application areas for these composites include high density information storage, electro-luminescence-displays, electromagnetic shielding, electronic devices, catalysis, sensing, etc.

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