Polymers2015, 7(3), 418-452; doi:10.3390/polym7030418 - published 24 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A systematic investigation into the chain transfer polymerization of the so-called radical precursor polymerization of poly(p-phenylene vinylene) (PPV) materials is presented. Polymerizations are characterized by systematic variation of chain transfer agent (CTA) concentration and reaction temperature. For the chain transfer constant, a negative activation energy of −12.8 kJ·mol−1 was deduced. Good control over molecular weight is achieved for both the sulfinyl and the dithiocarbamate route (DTC). PPVs with molecular weights ranging from thousands to ten thousands g·mol−1 were obtained. To allow for a meaningful analysis of the CTA influence, Mark–Houwink–Kuhn–Sakurada (MHKS) parameters were determined for conjugated MDMO-PPV ([2-methoxy-5-(3',7'-dimethyloctyloxy)]-1,4-phenylenevinylene) to α = 0.809 and k = 0.00002 mL·g−1. Further, high-endgroup fidelity of the CBr4-derived PPVs was proven via chain extension experiments. MDMO-PPV-Br was successfully used as macroinitiator in atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) with acrylates and styrene. A more polar PPV counterpart was chain extended by an acrylate in single-electron transfer living radical polymerization (SET-LRP). In a last step, copper-catalyzed azide alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) was used to synthesize block copolymer structures. Direct azidation followed by macromolecular conjugation showed only partial success, while the successive chain extension via ATRP followed by CuAAC afforded triblock copolymers of the poly(p-phenylene vinylene)-block-poly(tert-butyl acrylate)-block-poly(ethylene glycol) (PPV-b-PtBuA-b-PEG).
Polymers2015, 7(3), 390-417; doi:10.3390/polym7030390 - published 23 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Detailed atomistic (united atoms) molecular dynamics simulations of several graphene based polymer (polyethylene, PE) nanocomposite systems have been performed. Systems with graphene sheets of different sizes have been simulated at the same graphene concentration (~3%). In addition, a periodic graphene layer (“infinite sheet”) has been studied. Results concerning structural and dynamical properties of PE chains are presented for the various systems and compared to data from a corresponding bulk system. The final properties of the material are the result of a complex effect of the graphene’s sheet size, mobility and fluctuations. A detailed investigation of density, structure and dynamics of the hybrid systems has been conducted. Particular emphasis has been given in spatial heterogeneities due to the PE/graphene interfaces, which were studied through a detailed analysis based on radial distances form the graphene’s center-of-mass. Chain segmental dynamics is found to be slower, compared to the bulk one, at the PE/graphene interface by a factor of 5 to 10. Furthermore, an analysis on the graphene sheets characteristics is presented in terms of conformational properties (i.e., wrinkling) and mobility.
Polymers2015, 7(3), 373-389; doi:10.3390/polym7030373 - published 18 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The current paper focuses on the preparation and some characteristics of viscoelastic hydrogels, ViscoGels™, made from chitosans having a random acylation pattern. Three different chitosan batches with a high fraction of acetylation were selected based on their Mw, and the impact of degree of cross-linking on these chitosan samples has been studied with respect to the properties of the final hydrogels. Rheological long term (12 month) stability and gelling kinetics data are presented together with results from swelling studies at different pH. Finally, an example illustrating these gels potential as drug delivery vehicles is presented and discussed.
Polymers2015, 7(2), 333-372; doi:10.3390/polym7020333 - published 17 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Improving power conversion efficiency and device performance stability is the most critical challenge in polymer solar cells for fulfilling their applications in industry at large scale. Various methodologies have been developed for realizing this goal, among them interfacial layer engineering has shown great success, which can optimize the electrical contacts between active layers and electrodes and lead to enhanced charge transport and collection. Interfacial layers also show profound impacts on light absorption and optical distribution of solar irradiation in the active layer and film morphology of the subsequently deposited active layer due to the accompanied surface energy change. Interfacial layer engineering enables the use of high work function metal electrodes without sacrificing device performance, which in combination with the favored kinetic barriers against water and oxygen penetration leads to polymer solar cells with enhanced performance stability. This review provides an overview of the recent progress of different types of interfacial layer materials, including polymers, small molecules, graphene oxides, fullerene derivatives, and metal oxides. Device performance enhancement of the resulting solar cells will be elucidated and the function and operation mechanism of the interfacial layers will be discussed.
Polymers2015, 7(2), 316-332; doi:10.3390/polym7020316 - published 13 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Polyamide 6 (PA6) is a widely-used polymer that could find applications in various sectors, including home textiles, transportation or construction. However, due to its organic nature, PA6 is flammable, and flame-retardant formulations have to be developed to comply with fire safety standards. Recently, it was proposed to use ammonium sulfamate as an effective flame retardant for PA6, even at low loading content. However, processing issues could occur with this additive considering large-scale production. This paper thus studies the use of another sulfamate salt—guanidine sulfamate (GAS)—and evidences its high efficiency when combined with melamine polyphosphate (MPP) as a flame retardant for PA6. A decrease of the peak of the heat release rate by 30% compared to pure PA6 was obtained using only 5 wt% of a GAS/MPP mixture in a microscale calorimeter. Moreover, PA6 containing the mixture GAS/MPP exhibits a Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) of 37 vol% and is rated V0 for the UL 94 test (Vertical Burning Test; ASTM D 3801). The mechanisms of degradation were investigated analyzing the gas phase and solid phase when the material degrades. It was proposed that MPP and GAS modify the degradation pathway of PA6, leading to the formation of nitrile end-group-containing molecules. Moreover, the formation of a polyaromatic structure by the reaction of MPP and PA6 was also shown.
Polymers2015, 7(2), 298-315; doi:10.3390/polym7020298 - published 11 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Novel blends of two furan resins with an unsaturated polyester have been prepared and cured by parallel free radical (for the unsaturated polyester) and acid-catalysed crosslinking (for the furan resin) to give co-cured composite materials. Although these materials have inferior physical properties, such as low Tg and low storage modulus compared with those of unsaturated polyester and furan resins alone, they show markedly improved flame retardance compared with that of the normally highly flammable unsaturated polyester. This increased flame retardance arises from a condensed phase mechanism in which the furanic component forms a semi-protective char, reducing rates of thermal degradation and total heat release and heat of combustion. The blends also burn with reduced smoke output compared with that from unsaturated polyester alone.