Molecular Engineering of the Cellulose-Poly(Caprolactone) Bio-Nanocomposite Interface by Reactive Amphiphilic Copolymer Nanoparticles
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019
A molecularly engineered water-borne reactive compatibilizer is designed for tuning of the interface in melt-processed thermoplastic poly(caprolactone) (PCL)-cellulose nanocomposites. The mechanical properties of the nanocomposites are studied by tensile testing and dynamic mechanical analysis. The reactive compatibilizer is a statistical copolymer of 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate and 2-hydroxy methacrylate, which is subsequently esterified and quaternized. Quaternized ammonium groups in the reactive compatibilizer electrostatically match the negative surface charge of cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs). This results in core-shell CNFs with a thin uniform coating of the compatibilizer. This promotes the dispersion of CNFs in the PCL matrix, as concluded from high-resolution scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Moreover, the compatibilizer "shell" has methacrylate functionalities, which allow for radical reactions during processing and links covalently with PCL. Compared to the bio-nanocomposite reference, the reactive compatibilizer (<4 wt %) increased Young's modulus by about 80% and work to fracture 10 times. Doubling the amount of peroxide caused further improved mechanical properties, in support of effects from higher cross-link density at the interface. Further studies of interfacial design in specific nanocellulose-based composite materials are warranted since the detrimental effects from CNFs agglomeration may have been underestimated.