Materials2014, 7(4), 3274-3290; doi:10.3390/ma7043274 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fullerene derivatives have been widely used for conventional acceptor materials in organic photovoltaics (OPVs) because of their high electron mobility. However, there are also considerable drawbacks for use in OPVs, such as negligible light absorption in the visible-near-IR regions, less compatibility with donor polymeric materials and high cost for synthesis and purification. Therefore, the investigation of non-fullerene acceptor materials that can potentially replace fullerene derivatives in OPVs is increasingly necessary, which gives rise to the possibility of fabricating all-polymer (polymer/polymer) solar cells that can deliver higher performance and that are potentially cheaper than fullerene-based OPVs. Recently, considerable attention has been paid to donor-acceptor (D-A) block copolymers, because of their promising applications as fullerene alternative materials in all-polymer solar cells. However, the synthesis of D-A block copolymers is still a challenge, and therefore, the establishment of an efficient synthetic method is now essential. This review highlights the recent advances in D-A block copolymers synthesis and their applications in all-polymer solar cells.
Materials2014, 7(4), 3262-3273; doi:10.3390/ma7043262 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Surface modification with oxide nanostructures is one of the efficient ways to improve physical or biomedical properties of shape memory alloys. This work reports a fabrication of highly ordered Ti-Ni-O nanotube arrays on Ti-Ni alloy substrates through pulse anodization in glycerol-based electrolytes. The effects of anodization parameters and the annealing process on the microstructures and surface morphology of Ti-Ni-O were studied using scanning electron microscope and Raman spectroscopy. The electrolyte type greatly affected the formation of nanotube arrays. A formation of anatase phase was found with the Ti-Ni-O nanotube arrays annealed at 450 °C. The oxide nanotubes could be crystallized to rutile phase after annealing treatment at 650 °C. The Ti-Ni-O nanotube arrays demonstrated an excellent thermal stability by keeping their nanotubular structures up to 650 °C.
Materials2014, 7(4), 3251-3261; doi:10.3390/ma7043251 - published online 22 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Confinement and surface effects provided by nanoparticles have been shown to produce changes in polymer molecules affecting their macroscopic viscosity. Nanoparticles may induce rearrangements in polymer conformation with an increase in free volume significantly lowering the viscosity. This phenomenon is generally attributed to the selective adsorption of the polymer high molar mass fraction onto nanoparticles surface when the polymer radius of gyration is comparable to the nanoparticles characteristic dimensions. Carbon nanotubes seem to be the ideal candidate to induce viscosity reduction of polymer due to both their high surface-to-volume ratio and their nanometric sizes, comparable to the gyration radius of polymer chains. However, the amount of nanotube in a polymer system is limited by the percolation threshold as, above this limit, the formation of a nanotubes network hinders the viscosity reduction effect. Based on these findings, we have used multiwalled carbon nanotubes MWCNT “aggregates” as viscosity reducers. Our results reveal both that the use of nanotube clusters reduce significantly the viscosity of the final system and strongly increase the nanotube limiting concentration for viscosity hindering. By using hydroxyl and carboxyl functionalized nanotubes, this effect has been rather maximized likely due to the hydrogen bridged stabilization of nanotube aggregates.
Materials2014, 7(4), 3198-3250; doi:10.3390/ma7043198 - published online 21 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new class of microporous materials that possess framework flexibility, large surface areas, “tailor-made” framework functionalities, and tunable pore sizes. These features empower MOFs superior performances and broader application spectra than those of zeolites and phosphine-based molecular sieves. In parallel with designing new structures and new chemistry of MOFs, the observation of unique breathing behaviors upon adsorption of gases or solvents stimulates their potential applications as host materials in gas storage for renewable energy. This has attracted intense research energy to understand the causes at the atomic level, using in situ X-ray diffraction, calorimetry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics simulations. This article is developed in the following order: first to introduce the definition of MOFs and the observation of their framework flexibility. Second, synthesis routes of MOFs are summarized with the emphasis on the hydrothermal synthesis, owing to the environmental-benign and economically availability of water. Third, MOFs exhibiting breathing behaviors are summarized, followed by rationales from thermodynamic viewpoint. Subsequently, effects of various functionalities on breathing behaviors are appraised, including using post-synthetic modification routes. Finally, possible framework spatial requirements of MOFs for yielding breathing behaviors are highlighted as the design strategies for new syntheses.
Materials2014, 7(4), 3176-3197; doi:10.3390/ma7043176 - published online 21 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The main strategy to reduce the environmental impact of the concrete industry is to reuse the waste materials. This research has considered the combination of cement replacement by industrial by-products, and natural coarse aggregate substitution by recycled aggregate. The aim is to evaluate the behavior of concretes with a reduced impact on the environment by replacing a 50% of cement by industrial by-products (15% of spent fluid catalytic cracking catalyst and 35% of fly ash) and a 100% of natural coarse aggregate by recycled aggregate. The concretes prepared according to these considerations have been tested in terms of mechanical strengths and the protection offered against steel reinforcement corrosion under carbonation attack and chloride-contaminated environments. The proposed concrete combinations reduced the mechanical performance of concretes in terms of elastic modulus, compressive strength, and flexural strength. In addition, an increase in open porosity due to the presence of recycled aggregate was observed, which is coherent with the changes observed in mechanical tests. Regarding corrosion tests, no significant differences were observed in the case of the resistance of these types of concretes under a natural chloride attack. In the case of carbonation attack, although all concretes did not stand the highly aggressive conditions, those concretes with cement replacement behaved worse than Portland cement concretes.
Materials2014, 7(4), 3160-3175; doi:10.3390/ma7043160 - published online 21 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDX) is a technique for determining the distribution of elements in various materials. Here, we report a protocol for high-spatial-resolution X-ray elemental imaging and quantification in plant tissues at subcellular levels with a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). Calibration standards were established by producing agar blocks loaded with increasing KCl or NaCl concentrations. TEM-EDX images showed that the salts were evenly distributed in the agar matrix, but tended to aggregate at high concentrations. The mean intensities of K+, Cl−, and Na+ derived from elemental images were linearly correlated to the concentrations of these elements in the agar, over the entire concentration range tested (R > 0.916). We applied this method to plant root tissues. X-ray images were acquired at an actual resolution of 50 nm ´ 50 nm to 100 nm ´ 100 nm. We found that cell walls exhibited higher elemental concentrations than vacuoles. Plants exposed to salt stress showed dramatic accumulation of Na+ and Cl− in the transport tissues, and reached levels similar to those applied in the external solution (300 mM). The advantage of TEM-EDX mapping was the high-spatial-resolution achieved for imaging elemental distributions in a particular area with simultaneous quantitative analyses of multiple target elements.