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Volume 13, May-1

Polymers, Volume 13, Issue 10 (May-2 2021) – 137 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Superparamagnetic magnetite nanoparticles coated by branched poly(ethylene-imine) have been produced in a one-pot procedure. One of the samples was further functionalized with folic acid. The particles were tested as materials for magnetic hyperthermia, capable of releasing up to 330 W/g heating power. In vitro cell viability was tested against cell lines that expressed different levels of folate receptors. When incubated with folic-acid-functionalized particles in the presence of the alternating magnetic field, high-expressing folate cells showed a significant reduction in viability and clone formation. This result supports evaluation of such particles for magnetic hyperthermia, as well as active targeting on animal models. View this paper.
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Review
Melanin, the What, the Why and the How: An Introductory Review for Materials Scientists Interested in Flexible and Versatile Polymers
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1670; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101670 - 20 May 2021
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Abstract
Today, western society is facing challenges to create new medical technologies to service an aging population as well as the ever-increasing e-waste of electronic devices and sensors. A key solution to these challenges will be the use of biomaterials and biomimetic systems. One [...] Read more.
Today, western society is facing challenges to create new medical technologies to service an aging population as well as the ever-increasing e-waste of electronic devices and sensors. A key solution to these challenges will be the use of biomaterials and biomimetic systems. One material that has been receiving serious attention for its biomedical and device applications is eumelanin. Eumelanin, or commonly known as melanin, is nature’s brown-black pigment and is a poly-indolequinone biopolymer, which possess unique physical and chemical properties for material applications. Presented here is a review, aimed at polymer and other materials scientists, to introduce eumelanin as a potential material for research. Covered here are the chemical and physical structures of melanin, an overview of its unique physical and chemical properties, as well as a wide array of applications, but with an emphasis on device and sensing applications. The review is then finished by introducing interested readers to novel synthetic protocols and post synthesis fabrication techniques to enable a starting point for polymer research in this intriguing and complex material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials for Regenerative Medicine and Advanced Structures)
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Article
Anion Exchange Membrane Based on Sulfonated Poly (Styrene-Ethylene-Butylene-Styrene) Copolymers
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1669; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101669 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 346
Abstract
Sulfonated poly(styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene) copolymer (S-SEBS) was prepared as an anion exchange membrane using the casting method. The prepared S-SEBS was further modified with sulfonic acid groups and grafted with maleic anhydride (MA) to improve the ionic conducting properties. The prepared MA-grafted S-SEBS (S-SEBS-g-MA) membranes [...] Read more.
Sulfonated poly(styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene) copolymer (S-SEBS) was prepared as an anion exchange membrane using the casting method. The prepared S-SEBS was further modified with sulfonic acid groups and grafted with maleic anhydride (MA) to improve the ionic conducting properties. The prepared MA-grafted S-SEBS (S-SEBS-g-MA) membranes were characterized by Fourier transform infrared red (FT-IR) spectroscopy and dynamic modulus analysis (DMA). The morphology of the S-SEBS and S-SEBS-g-MA was investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM) analysis. The modified membranes formed ionic channels by means of association with the sulfonate group and carboxyl group in the SEBS. The electrochemical properties of the modified SEBS membranes, such as water uptake capability, impedance spectroscopy, ionic conductivity, and ionic exchange capacity (IEC), were also measured. The electrochemical analysis revealed that the S-SEBS-g-MA anion exchange membrane showed ionic conductivity of 0.25 S/cm at 100% relative humidity, with 72.5% water uptake capacity. Interestingly, we did not observe any changes in their mechanical and chemical properties, which revealed the robustness of the modified SEBS membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Composites and Processing)
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Article
Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence in Commercially Available Materials for Solution-Process Exciplex OLEDs
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1668; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101668 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 427
Abstract
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have developed rapidly in recent years. Thermally activated delayed fluorescent (TADF) molecules open a path to increase exciton collection efficiency from 25% to 100%, and the solution process provides an alternative technology to achieve lower cost OLEDs more easily. [...] Read more.
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have developed rapidly in recent years. Thermally activated delayed fluorescent (TADF) molecules open a path to increase exciton collection efficiency from 25% to 100%, and the solution process provides an alternative technology to achieve lower cost OLEDs more easily. To develop commercial materials as exciplex hosts for high-performance and solution-processed OLEDs, we attempted to use 4,4′-cyclohexylidenebis[N,N-bis(4-methylphenyl)benzenamine (TAPC), poly(9-vinylcarbazole) (PVK), N,N′-Di(1-naphthyl)-N,N′-diphenyl-(1,1′-biphenyl)-4,4′-diamine (NPB), and poly(N,N’-bis-4-butylphenyl-N,N’-bisphenyl)benzidine (Poly-TPD) as the donors and 2,4,6-tris[3-(diphenylphosphinyl)phenyl]-1,3,5-triazine (POT2T) as the acceptor to obtain the TADF effect. All donors and the acceptor were purchased from chemical suppliers. Our work shows that excellent TADF properties and high-efficiency exciplex OLEDs with low turn-on voltage and high luminance can be achieved with a simple combination of commercial materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Polymers in Energy and Environmental Sciences)
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Article
A Novel Cobalt Metallopolymer with Redox-Matched Conjugated Organic Backbone via Electropolymerization of a Readily Available N4 Cobalt Complex
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1667; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101667 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 364
Abstract
Fast and reversible cobalt-centered redox reactions in metallopolymers are the key to using these materials in energy storage, electrocatalytic, and sensing applications. Metal-centered electrochemical activity can be enhanced via redox matching of the conjugated organic backbone and cobalt centers. In this study, we [...] Read more.
Fast and reversible cobalt-centered redox reactions in metallopolymers are the key to using these materials in energy storage, electrocatalytic, and sensing applications. Metal-centered electrochemical activity can be enhanced via redox matching of the conjugated organic backbone and cobalt centers. In this study, we present a novel approach to redox matching via modification of the cobalt coordination site: a conductive electrochemically active polymer was electro-synthesized from [Co(Amben)] complex (Amben = N,N′-bis(o-aminobenzylidene)ethylenediamine) for the first time. The poly-[Co(Amben)] films were investigated by cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance (EQCM), in situ UV-vis-NIR spectroelectrochemistry, and in situ conductance measurements between −0.9 and 1.3 V vs. Ag/Ag+. The polymer displayed multistep redox processes involving reversible transfer of the total of 1.25 electrons per repeat unit. The findings indicate consecutive formation of three redox states during reversible electrochemical oxidation of the polymer film, which were identified as benzidine radical cations, Co(III) ions, and benzidine di-cations. The Co(II)/Co(III) redox switching is retained in the thick polymer films because it occurs at potentials of high polymer conductivity due to the optimum redox matching of the Co(II)/Co(III) redox pair with the organic conjugated backbone. It makes poly-[Co(Amben)] suitable for various practical applications based on cobalt-mediated redox reactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spectroelectrochemistry of Electroactive Polymer Materials)
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Article
Conservation, Regeneration and Genetic Stability of Regenerants from Alginate-Encapsulated Shoot Explants of Gardenia jasminoides Ellis
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1666; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101666 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 338
Abstract
The present study demonstrates the potential of the alginate encapsulation of shoot tips and nodal segments of Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, the short-term cold storage of artificial seeds and subsequent successful conversion to desirable, uniform and genetically stable plantlets. Shoot tips and first-node segments [...] Read more.
The present study demonstrates the potential of the alginate encapsulation of shoot tips and nodal segments of Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, the short-term cold storage of artificial seeds and subsequent successful conversion to desirable, uniform and genetically stable plantlets. Shoot tips and first-node segments below them, derived from shoots of in vitro cultures, responded better than second-to-fourth-node segments on agar-solidified Murashige and Skoog (MS) nutrient medium and thus, they were used as explants for alginate encapsulation. Explant encapsulation in 2.5% sodium alginate in combination with 50 mM of calcium chloride resulted in the production of soft beads, while hardening in 100 mM of calcium chloride formed firm beads of uniform globular shape, suitable for handling. The addition of liquid MS nutrient medium in the sodium alginate solution doubled the subsequent germination response of the beads. The maintenance of alginate beads under light favored their germination response compared to maintenance in darkness. Encapsulated shoot tip explants of gardenia, which were stored at 4 °C for 4, 8 or 12 weeks, showed a gradual decline in their regeneration response (73.3, 68.9, 53.3%, respectively), whereas, non-encapsulated explants (naked), stored under the same time durations of cold conditions, exhibited a sharp decline in regeneration response up to entirely zeroing (48.9, 11.1, 0.0%, respectively). Shoots, derived from 12-week cold-stored encapsulated explants, were easily rooted in solid MS nutrient medium with the addition of 0.5 μM of Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and after transplantation of the rooted plantlets individually to pots containing a peat–perlite (3:1, v/v) substrate, they were successfully acclimatized in the greenhouse under the gradual reduction of 75 or 50% shading with survival rates of 95–100%. The genetic stability of the acclimatized plantlets was assessed and compared with the mother plant using inter simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers. ISSR analysis confirmed that all regenerated plantlets were genetically identical to the mother plant. This procedure of artificial seed production could be useful for the short-term storage of germplasm and the production of genetically identical and stable plants as an alternative method of micropropagation in Gardenia jasminoides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Materials for Agricultural Application)
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Article
Effect of Core Architecture on Charpy Impact and Compression Properties of Tufted Sandwich Structural Composites
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1665; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101665 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 264
Abstract
This study presents a novel sandwich structure that replaces the polypropylene (PP) foam core with a carbon fiber non-woven material in the tufting process and the liquid resin infusion (LRI) process. An experimental investigation was conducted into the flatwise compression properties and Charpy [...] Read more.
This study presents a novel sandwich structure that replaces the polypropylene (PP) foam core with a carbon fiber non-woven material in the tufting process and the liquid resin infusion (LRI) process. An experimental investigation was conducted into the flatwise compression properties and Charpy impact resistance of sandwich composites. The obtained results validate an enhancement to the mechanical properties due to the non-woven core and tufting yarns. Compared to samples with a pure foam core and samples without tufting threads, the compressive strength increased by 45% and 86%, respectively. The sample with a non-woven layer and tufting yarns had the highest Charpy absorbed energy (23.85 Kj/m2), which is approximately 66% higher than the samples without a non-woven layer and 90% higher than the samples without tufting yarns. Due to the buckling of the resin cylinders in the Z-direction that occurred in all of the different sandwich samples during the compression test, the classical buckling theory was adopted to analyze the differences between the results. The specific properties of the weight gains are discussed in this paper. The results show that the core layers have a negative effect on impact resistance. Nevertheless, the addition of tufting yarns presents an obvious benefit to all of the specific properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Composite Analysis and Characterization)
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Article
Functional Properties of Antimicrobial Neem Leaves Extract Based Macroalgae Biofilms for Potential Use as Active Dry Packaging Applications
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1664; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101664 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 362
Abstract
Antimicrobial irradiated seaweed–neem biocomposite films were synthesized in this study. The storage functional properties of the films were investigated. Characterization of the prepared films was conducted using SEM, FT-IR, contact angle, and antimicrobial test. The macroscopic and microscopic including the analysis of the [...] Read more.
Antimicrobial irradiated seaweed–neem biocomposite films were synthesized in this study. The storage functional properties of the films were investigated. Characterization of the prepared films was conducted using SEM, FT-IR, contact angle, and antimicrobial test. The macroscopic and microscopic including the analysis of the functional group and the gas chromatography-mass spectrometry test revealed the main active constituents present in the neem extract, which was used an essential component of the fabricated films. Neem leaves’ extracts with 5% w/w concentration were incorporated into the matrix of seaweed biopolymer and the seaweed–neem bio-composite film were irradiated with different dosages of gamma radiation (0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 kGy). The tensile, thermal, and the antimicrobial properties of the films were studied. The results revealed that the irradiated films exhibited improved functional properties compared to the control film at 1.5 kGy radiation dosage. The tensile strength, tensile modulus, and toughness exhibited by the films increased, while the elongation of the irradiated bio-composite film decreased compared to the control film. The morphology of the irradiated films demonstrated a smoother surface compared to the control and provided surface intermolecular interaction of the neem–seaweed matrix. The film indicated an optimum storage stability under ambient conditions and demonstrated no significant changes in the visual appearance. However, an increase in the moisture content was exhibited by the film, and the hydrophobic properties was retained until nine months of the storage period. The study of the films antimicrobial activities against Staphylococcus aureus (SA), and Bacillus subtilis (BS) indicated improved resistance to bacterial activities after the incorporation of neem leaves extract and gamma irradiation. The fabricated irradiated seaweed–neem bio-composite film could be used as an excellent sustainable packaging material due to its effective storage stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers and Bioplastics)
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Article
Development of Bioinspired Functional Chitosan/Cellulose Nanofiber 3D Hydrogel Constructs by 3D Printing for Application in the Engineering of Mechanically Demanding Tissues
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1663; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101663 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Soft tissues are commonly fiber-reinforced hydrogel composite structures, distinguishable from hard tissues by their low mineral and high water content. In this work, we proposed the development of 3D printed hydrogel constructs of the biopolymers chitosan (CHI) and cellulose nanofibers (CNFs), both without [...] Read more.
Soft tissues are commonly fiber-reinforced hydrogel composite structures, distinguishable from hard tissues by their low mineral and high water content. In this work, we proposed the development of 3D printed hydrogel constructs of the biopolymers chitosan (CHI) and cellulose nanofibers (CNFs), both without any chemical modification, which processing did not incorporate any chemical crosslinking. The unique mechanical properties of native cellulose nanofibers offer new strategies for the design of environmentally friendly high mechanical performance composites. In the here proposed 3D printed bioinspired CNF-filled CHI hydrogel biomaterials, the chitosan serves as a biocompatible matrix promoting cell growth with balanced hydrophilic properties, while the CNFs provide mechanical reinforcement to the CHI-based hydrogel. By means of extrusion-based printing (EBB), the design and development of 3D functional hydrogel scaffolds was achieved by using low concentrations of chitosan (2.0–3.0% (w/v)) and cellulose nanofibers (0.2–0.4% (w/v)). CHI/CNF printed hydrogels with good mechanical performance (Young’s modulus 3.0 MPa, stress at break 1.5 MPa, and strain at break 75%), anisotropic microstructure and suitable biological response, were achieved. The CHI/CNF composition and processing parameters were optimized in terms of 3D printability, resolution, and quality of the constructs (microstructure and mechanical properties), resulting in good cell viability. This work allows expanding the library of the so far used biopolymer compositions for 3D printing of mechanically performant hydrogel constructs, purely based in the natural polymers chitosan and cellulose, offering new perspectives in the engineering of mechanically demanding hydrogel tissues like intervertebral disc (IVD), cartilage, meniscus, among others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chitosan, Chitin, and Cellulose Nanofiber Biomaterials)
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Article
Surface Modification of Spruce and Fir Sawn-Timber by Charring in the Traditional Japanese Method—Yakisugi
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1662; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101662 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 346
Abstract
The traditional Japanese method of wood surface charring was studied. To perform the surface charring, three sawn Norway spruce and Silver fir wood boards of dimension 190 × 24 × 4000 mm3 were tied together to act as a chimney and charred [...] Read more.
The traditional Japanese method of wood surface charring was studied. To perform the surface charring, three sawn Norway spruce and Silver fir wood boards of dimension 190 × 24 × 4000 mm3 were tied together to act as a chimney and charred in a short time (3–4 min) with open flame at a temperature above 500 °C. Temperature inside the chimney was recorded on the three different positions during the charring process. Surface temperature of spruce increased from 0 °C to 500 °C in approx. 120–300 s while fir increased in approx. 100–250 s. The thickness of the charred layer and the resulting cupping effect were investigated at the different heights of the chimney to evaluate its variability. Temperature achieved during the charring process was sufficient to get a significant charred layer of 2.5 and 4.5 mm on average for spruce and fir samples, respectively. The analyzed samples showed a significant cupping effect to the charred side with no difference between the annual ring orientation of sawn boards. Spruce exhibit a more significant cupping effect when compared to fir, i.e., 3.2–6 mm and 2.2–4.5 mm, respectively. Furthermore, the pH values of charred samples increased significantly, which could be an indication of improved resistance against wood-decay fungi. For better insight into the traditional charring method, further studies should be carried out to execute the charring process in a consistent quality and therefore fully exploit its potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Durability and Modification of Wood Surfaces)
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Manufacturing and Characterisation of Polymeric Membranes for Water Treatment and Numerical Investigation of Mechanics of Nanocomposite Membranes
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1661; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101661 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 383
Abstract
In this study, polyethersulfone (PES) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) microfiltration membranes containing polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) with and without support layers of 130 and 150 μm thickness are manufactured using the phase inversion method and then experimentally characterised. For the characterisation of membranes, Fourier transform [...] Read more.
In this study, polyethersulfone (PES) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) microfiltration membranes containing polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) with and without support layers of 130 and 150 μm thickness are manufactured using the phase inversion method and then experimentally characterised. For the characterisation of membranes, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and pore size analysis are performed, the contact angle and water content of membranes are measured and the tensile test is applied to membranes without support layers. Using the results obtained from the tensile tests, the mechanical properties of the halloysite nanotube (HNT) and nano-silicon dioxide (nano SiO2) reinforced nanocomposite membranes are approximately determined by the Mori–Tanaka homogenisation method without applying any further mechanical tests. Then, plain polymeric and PES and PVDF based nanocomposite membranes are modelled using the finite element method to determine the effect of the geometry of the membrane on the mechanical behaviour for fifteen different geometries. The modelled membranes compared in terms of three different criteria: equivalent stress (von Mises), displacement, and in-plane principal strain. Based on the data obtained from the characterisation part of the study and the numerical analysis, the membrane with the best performance is determined. The most appropriate shape and material for a membrane for water treatment is specified as a 1% HNT doped PVDF based elliptical membrane. Full article
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Article
Marginal Adaptation and Micropermeability of Class II Cavities Restored with Three Different Types of Resin Composites—A Comparative Ten-Month In Vitro Study
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1660; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101660 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 329
Abstract
The development of composite materials is subject to the desire to overcome polymerization shrinkage and generated polymerization stress. An indicator characterizing the properties of restorative materials, with specific importance for preventing secondary caries, is the integrity and durability of marginal sealing. It is [...] Read more.
The development of composite materials is subject to the desire to overcome polymerization shrinkage and generated polymerization stress. An indicator characterizing the properties of restorative materials, with specific importance for preventing secondary caries, is the integrity and durability of marginal sealing. It is a reflection of the effects of polymerization shrinkage and generated stress. The present study aimed to evaluate and correlate marginal integrity and micropermeability in second-class cavities restored with three different types of composites, representing different strategies to reduce polymerization shrinkage and stress: nanocomposite, silorane, and bulk-fill composite after a ten-month ageing period. Thirty standardized class ΙΙ cavities were prepared on extracted human molars. Gingival margins were 1 mm apical to the cementoenamel junction. Cavities were randomly divided into three groups, based on the composites used: FiltekUltimate-nanocomposite; Filtek Silorane LS-silorane; SonicFill-bulk-fill composite. All specimens were subjected to thermal cycles after that, dipped in saline for 10-mounds. After ageing, samples were immersed in a 2% methylene blue. Thus prepared, they were covered directly with gold and analyzed on SEM for assessment of marginal seal. When the SEM analysis was completed, the teeth were included into epoxy blocks and cut longitudinally on three slices for each cavity. An assessment of microleakage on stereomicroscope followed. Results were statistically analyzed. For marginal seal evaluation: F.Ultimate and F.Silorane differ statistically with more excellent results than SonicFill for marginal adaptation to the gingival margin, located entirely in the dentin. For microleakage evaluation: F.Ultimate and F.Silorane differ statistically with less microleakage than SonicFill. Based on the results obtained: a strong correlation is found between excellent results for marginal adaptation to the marginal gingival ridge and micropermeability at the direction to the axial wall. We observe a more significant influence of time at the gingival margin of the cavities. There is a significant increase in the presence of marginal fissures (p = 0.001). A significant impact of time (p < 0.000) and of the material (p < 0.000) was found in the analysis of the microleakage. Full article
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Article
UV Polymerization of Methacrylates—Preparation and Properties of Novel Copolymers
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1659; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101659 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 381
Abstract
More environmentally friendly polymeric materials for use in corrosive conditions were obtained in the process of UV polymerization of terpene methacrylate monomers: geranyl methacrylate and citronellyl methacrylate and the commercially available monomer methyl methacrylate. Selected properties (solvent resistance, chemical resistance, glass transition temperature, [...] Read more.
More environmentally friendly polymeric materials for use in corrosive conditions were obtained in the process of UV polymerization of terpene methacrylate monomers: geranyl methacrylate and citronellyl methacrylate and the commercially available monomer methyl methacrylate. Selected properties (solvent resistance, chemical resistance, glass transition temperature, thermal stability, and decomposition course during heating) were evaluated. It was found that the properties of the materials directly depended on the monomer percentage and the conditioning temperatures used. An increase in the geranyl or citronellyl methacrylate monomer content in the copolymers reduced the solubility and chemical resistance of the materials post-cured at 50 °C. The samples post-cured at 120 °C were characterized by high resistance to polar and non-polar solvents and the chemical environment, regardless of the percentage composition. The glass transition temperatures for samples conditioned at 120 °C increased with increasing content of methyl methacrylate in the copolymers. The thermal stability of copolymers depended on the conditioning temperatures used. It was greater than 200 °C for most copolymers post-cured at 120 °C. The process of pyrolysis of copolymers led to the emission of geranyl methacrylate, citronellyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate monomers as the main pyrolysis volatiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in UV Polymerization—New Polymeric Materials)
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Article
Analysis of the Storage Stability Property of Carbon Nanotube/Recycled Polyethylene-Modified Asphalt Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1658; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101658 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can improve the storage properties of modified asphalt by enhancing the interfacial adhesion of recycled polyethylene (RPE) and base asphalt. In this study, the interaction of CNT/RPE asphalt was investigated using molecular dynamics simulation. The base asphalt was examined using [...] Read more.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can improve the storage properties of modified asphalt by enhancing the interfacial adhesion of recycled polyethylene (RPE) and base asphalt. In this study, the interaction of CNT/RPE asphalt was investigated using molecular dynamics simulation. The base asphalt was examined using a 12-component molecular model and verified by assessing the following properties: its four-component content, elemental contents, radial distribution function (RDF) and glass transition temperature. Then, the adhesion properties at the interface of the CNT/RPE-modified asphalt molecules were studied by measuring binding energy. The molecular structural stability of CNTs at the interface between RPE and asphalt molecules was analyzed through the relative concentration distribution. The motion of molecules in the modified asphalt was studied in terms of the mean square displacement (MSD) and diffusion coefficient. The results showed that CNTs improved the binding energy between RPE and base asphalt. CNTs not only weakened the repulsion of RPE with asphaltenes and resins, but also promoted the interaction of RPE with light components, which facilitated the compatibility of RPE with the base asphalt. The change in the interaction affected the molecular motion, and the molecular diffusion coefficient in the CNT/RPE-modified asphalt system was significantly smaller than that of RPE-modified asphalt. Moreover, the distribution of the asphaltene component was promoted by CNTs, resulting in the enhancement of the storage stability of RPE-modified asphalt. The property indexes indicated that the storage stability was significantly improved by CNTs, and better viscoelastic properties were also observed. Our research provides a foundation for the application of RPE in pavement engineering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling of Plastics)
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Article
Study on the Corrosion Resistance of Graphene Oxide-Based Epoxy Zinc-Rich Coatings
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1657; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101657 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 340
Abstract
In order to improve the corrosion resistance of zinc-rich epoxy coatings and reduce the amount of zinc used, first, graphene oxide (GO) was modified by sulfonated multiwall carbon nanotubes (SMWCNTs) to obtain the modified graphene oxide (SM-GO). The samples were characterized by Fourier [...] Read more.
In order to improve the corrosion resistance of zinc-rich epoxy coatings and reduce the amount of zinc used, first, graphene oxide (GO) was modified by sulfonated multiwall carbon nanotubes (SMWCNTs) to obtain the modified graphene oxide (SM-GO). The samples were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Raman spectroscopy. Then, four kinds of coatings were prepared, namely pure zinc-rich coating (0-ZRC), graphene oxide-based zinc-rich coating (GO-ZRC), sulfonated multiwall carbon nanotube-based zinc-rich coating (SM-ZRC) and SM-GO-based zinc-rich coating (SG-ZRC). The corrosion resistance of the above coatings was studied by open circuit potential (OCP), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), a salt spray test, 3D confocal microscope, and electron scanning electron microscope (SEM). The results indicate that GO is successfully non-covalently modified by SMWCNTs, of which the interlayer spacing increases and dispersion is improved. The order of the corrosion resistance is GO-ZRC > SG-ZRC > SM-ZRC > 0-ZRC. The addition of GO, SMWCNTs, and SM-GO increases the shielding effect and increases the electrical connection between Zn particles and metal substrates, which improves the corrosion resistance. However, SMWCNTs and SM-GO also strengthen the galvanic corrosion, which decreases the corrosion resistance to some extent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Composites and Nanocomposites)
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Influence of Fillers and Ionic Liquids on the Crosslinking and Performance of Natural Rubber Biocomposites
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101656 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 395
Abstract
This work concerns the effect of fillers and ionic liquids on the cure characteristics of natural rubber (NR) compounds, as well as the mechanical and thermal properties of the vulcanizates. Three types of white filler were applied, such as cellulose, nanosized silica and [...] Read more.
This work concerns the effect of fillers and ionic liquids on the cure characteristics of natural rubber (NR) compounds, as well as the mechanical and thermal properties of the vulcanizates. Three types of white filler were applied, such as cellulose, nanosized silica and hydrotalcite, to modify the performance of NR composites. Additionally, ionic liquids (ILs) with bromide anion and different cations, i.e., 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium (Bmi) and 1-butyl-3-methylpyrrolidinium (Bmpyr), were used to improve the cure characteristics of NR compounds and functional properties of the vulcanizates. The type of filler and the structure of ILs were proved to affect the rheometric properties and cure characteristics of NR compounds as well as the performance of the NR vulcanizates. Owing to the adsorption of curatives onto the surface, silica reduced the activity of the crosslinking system, prolonging the optimal vulcanization time of NR compounds and reducing the crosslinking degree of the elastomer. However, silica-filled NR exhibited the highest thermal stability. Hydrotalcite increased the crosslink density and, consequently, the mechanical properties of the vulcanizates, but deteriorated their thermal stability. ILs beneficially influenced the cure characteristics of NR compounds, as well as the crosslink density and mechanical performance of the vulcanizates, particularly those filled with silica. Cellulose did not significantly affect the vulcanization of NR compounds and crosslink density of the vulcanizates compared to the unfilled elastomer, but deteriorated their tensile strength. On the other hand, cellulose improved the thermal stability and did not considerably alter the damping properties of the vulcanizates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Additives as Modificators of Polymer Biocomposites)
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Cellulose-Chitosan-Nanohydroxyapatite Hybrid Composites by One-Pot Synthesis for Biomedical Applications
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1655; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101655 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 346
Abstract
The development of organic–inorganic hybrid materials deserves special interest for bone tissue engineering applications, where materials must have properties that induce the survival and activation of cells derived from the mesenchyme. In this work, four bio-nanocomposites based on cellulose and variable content of [...] Read more.
The development of organic–inorganic hybrid materials deserves special interest for bone tissue engineering applications, where materials must have properties that induce the survival and activation of cells derived from the mesenchyme. In this work, four bio-nanocomposites based on cellulose and variable content of chitosan, from 15 to 50 w% based on cellulose, with nanohydroxyapatite and β-Glycerophosphate as cross-linking agent were synthesized by simplified and low-energy-demanding solvent exchange method to determine the best ratio of chitosan to cellulose matrix. This study analyzes the metabolic activity and survival of human dermal fibroblast cells cultivated in four bio-nanocomposites based on cellulose and the variable content of chitosan. The biocompatibility was tested by the in vitro cytotoxicity assays Live/Dead and PrestoBlue. In addition, the composites were characterized by FTIR, XRD and SEM. The results have shown that the vibration bands of β-Glycerophosphate have prevailed over the other components bands, while new diffraction planes have emerged from the interaction between the cross-linking agent and the biopolymers. The bio-nanocomposite micrographs have shown no surface porosity as purposely designed. On the other hand, cell death and detachment were observed when the composites of 1 and 0.1 w/v% were used. However, the composite containing 10 w% chitosan, against the sum of cellulose and β-Glycerophosphate, has shown less cell death and detachment when used at 0.01 w/v%, making it suitable for more in vitro studies in bone tissue engineering, as a promising economical biomaterial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanocellulose: Polymer Nanocomposites and all-Cellulose Materials)
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Article
Interfacial Compatibility on the Crystal Transformation of Isotactic Poly (1-Butene)/Herb Residue Composite
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1654; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101654 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 306
Abstract
Isotactic poly (1-butene) (iPB) has excellent properties which are recognized as a green and energy saving product. However, the most stable and valuable crystal form I had a spontaneous transformation that took as long as seven days to complete. As a special solid [...] Read more.
Isotactic poly (1-butene) (iPB) has excellent properties which are recognized as a green and energy saving product. However, the most stable and valuable crystal form I had a spontaneous transformation that took as long as seven days to complete. As a special solid waste, the herb residue (HR) is rich in cellulose which has great potential to accelerate the crystal transformation of the iPB. However, the polarity of HR results in the interface compatibility with non-polar iPB. In this study, the HR was modified by silane coupling agent (KH570) to obtain KHR and the iPB/HR composite was prepared. The FTIR spectrum was indicated that the organic functional groups of KH570 successfully graft onto the surface of HR and the water contact angle test was indicated that the hydrophilicity of the KHR was greatly decreased. The complete crystal transformation time is 7 days for iPB, 6 days for iPB+5% HR but only 3 days for iPB+5% KHR. The addition of the HR and KHR improve the thermal stability of the composite and this beneficial effect is more obvious for KHR. After annealing for 5 days, the physical properties value include tensile strength, flexural strength, and HDT of iPB+5% HR reach that of pure iPB after annealing for 7 days, but only 3 days for iPB+5% KHR. The TG analysis and SEM photographs give clear evidence that the beneficial effect of KH570 modified HR on improving the interface compatibility with iPB. Full article
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Article
Interlayer Adhesion Analysis of 3D-Printed Continuous Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Composites
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1653; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101653 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 362
Abstract
Carbon fibre-reinforced materials are becoming more and more popular in various fields of industries because of their lightweight and perfect mechanical properties. Additive manufacturing technologies can be used for the production of complex parts from various materials including composites. Fused deposition modelling (FDM) [...] Read more.
Carbon fibre-reinforced materials are becoming more and more popular in various fields of industries because of their lightweight and perfect mechanical properties. Additive manufacturing technologies can be used for the production of complex parts from various materials including composites. Fused deposition modelling (FDM) is an excellent technology for the production of composite structures reinforced with short or continuous carbon fibre. In this study, modified FDM technology was used for the production of composites reinforced with continuous carbon fibre. The main aim of this study is to evaluate the shear strength of 3D-printed composite structures. The influence of printing layer height and line width on shear strength was analysed. Results showed that layer height has a significant influence on shear strength, while the influence of printing line width on shear strength is slightly smaller. Reduction of layer height from 0.4 mm to 0.3 mm allows increasing shear strength by about 40 percent. Moreover, the influence of the shear area and overlap length on shear force showed linear dependency, in which the shear area is increasing the shear force increasing proportionally. Finally, the results obtained can be used for the design and development of new 3D-printed composite structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Composites for Structural Applications)
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Review
Polymeric Dopant-Free Hole Transporting Materials for Perovskite Solar Cells: Structures and Concepts towards Better Performances
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1652; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101652 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 551
Abstract
Perovskite solar cells are a hot topic of photovoltaic research, reaching, in few years, an impressive efficiency (25.5%), but their long-term stability still needs to be addressed for industrial production. One of the most sizeable reasons for instability is the doping of the [...] Read more.
Perovskite solar cells are a hot topic of photovoltaic research, reaching, in few years, an impressive efficiency (25.5%), but their long-term stability still needs to be addressed for industrial production. One of the most sizeable reasons for instability is the doping of the Hole Transporting Material (HTM), being the salt commonly employed as a vector bringing moisture in contact with perovskite film and destroying it. With this respect, the research focused on new and stable “dopant-free” HTMs, which are inherently conductive, being able to effectively work without any addition of dopants. Notwithstanding, they show impressive efficiency and stability results. The dopant-free polymers, often made of alternated donor and acceptor cores, have properties, namely the filming ability, the molecular weight tunability, the stacking and packing peculiarities, and high hole mobility in absence of any dopant, that make them very attractive and a real innovation in the field. In this review, we tried our best to collect all the dopant-free polymeric HTMs known so far in the perovskite solar cells field, providing a brief historical introduction, followed by the classification and analysis of the polymeric structures, based on their building blocks, trying to find structure–activity relationships whenever possible. The research is still increasing and a very simple polymer (PFDT–2F–COOH) approaches PCE = 22% while some more complex ones overcome 22%, up to 22.41% (PPY2). Full article
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Article
Ring-Opening Copolymerization of Cyclohexene Oxide and Cyclic Anhydrides Catalyzed by Bimetallic Scorpionate Zinc Catalysts
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1651; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101651 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 438
Abstract
The catalytic activity and high selectivity reported by bimetallic heteroscorpionate acetate zinc complexes in ring-opening copolymerization (ROCOP) reactions involving CO2 as substrate encouraged us to expand their use as catalysts for ROCOP of cyclohexene oxide (CHO) and cyclic anhydrides. Among the catalysts [...] Read more.
The catalytic activity and high selectivity reported by bimetallic heteroscorpionate acetate zinc complexes in ring-opening copolymerization (ROCOP) reactions involving CO2 as substrate encouraged us to expand their use as catalysts for ROCOP of cyclohexene oxide (CHO) and cyclic anhydrides. Among the catalysts tested for the ROCOP of CHO and phthalic anhydride at different reaction conditions, the most active catalytic system was the combination of complex 3 with bis(triphenylphosphine)iminium as cocatalyst in toluene at 80 °C. Once the optimal catalytic system was determined, the scope in terms of other cyclic anhydrides was broadened. The catalytic system was capable of copolymerizing selectively and efficiently CHO with phthalic, maleic, succinic and naphthalic anhydrides to afford the corresponding polyester materials. The polyesters obtained were characterized by spectroscopic, spectrometric, and calorimetric techniques. Finally, the reaction mechanism of the catalytic system was proposed based on stoichiometric reactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Polymer Science and Technology in Spain (2020,2021))
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Review
Numerical Methods in Studies of Liquid Crystal Elastomers
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1650; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101650 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 411
Abstract
Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are a type of material with specific features of polymers and of liquid crystals. They exhibit interesting behaviors, i.e., they are able to change their physical properties when met with external stimuli, including heat, light, electric, and magnetic fields. [...] Read more.
Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are a type of material with specific features of polymers and of liquid crystals. They exhibit interesting behaviors, i.e., they are able to change their physical properties when met with external stimuli, including heat, light, electric, and magnetic fields. This behavior makes LCEs a suitable candidate for a variety of applications, including, but not limited to, artificial muscles, optical devices, microscopy and imaging systems, biosensor devices, and optimization of solar energy collectors. Due to the wide range of applicability, numerical models are needed not only to further our understanding of the underlining mechanics governing LCE behavior, but also to enable the predictive modeling of their behavior under different circumstances for different applications. Given that several mainstream methods are used for LCE modeling, viz. finite element method, Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics, and the growing interest and reliance on computer modeling for predicting the opto-mechanical behavior of complex structures in real world applications, there is a need to gain a better understanding regarding their strengths and weaknesses so that the best method can be utilized for the specific application at hand. Therefore, this investigation aims to not only to present a multitude of examples on numerical studies conducted on LCEs, but also attempts at offering a concise categorization of different methods based on the desired application to act as a guide for current and future research in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Physics and Theory)
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Article
An Analysis of Polymer Gear Wear in a Spur Gear Train Made Using FDM and FFF Methods Based on Tooth Surface Topography Assessment
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1649; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101649 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
This article focuses on wear tests of spur gears made with the use of additive manufacturing techniques from thermoplastic materials. The following additive manufacturing techniques were employed in this study: Melted and Extruded Modelling (FDM) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The study analysed [...] Read more.
This article focuses on wear tests of spur gears made with the use of additive manufacturing techniques from thermoplastic materials. The following additive manufacturing techniques were employed in this study: Melted and Extruded Modelling (FDM) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The study analysed gears made from ABS M-30 (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), ULTEM 9085 (PEI Polyetherimide) and PEEK (Polyetheretherketone), and the selection of these materials reflects their hierarchy in terms of economical application and strength parameters. A test rig designed by the authors was used to determine the fatigue life of polymer gears. Gear trains were tested under load in order to measure wear in polymer gears manufactured using FDM and FFF techniques. In order to understand the mechanism behind gear wear, further tests were performed on a P40 coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a TalyScan 150 scanning instrument. The results of the gear tests made under load allow us to conclude that PEEK is resistant to wear and gear train operating temperature. Its initial topography undergoes slight changes in comparison to ABS M-30 and Ultem 9085. The biggest wear was reported for gears made from Ultem 9085. The hardness of the material decreased due to the loaded gear train’s operating temperature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Polymer Science and Technology in Poland (2020,2021))
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Article
Polymer Composites with 0.98 Transparencies and Small Optical Energy Band Gap Using a Promising Green Methodology: Structural and Optical Properties
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1648; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101648 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 345
Abstract
In this work, a green approach was implemented to prepare polymer composites using polyvinyl alcohol polymer and the extract of black tea leaves (polyphenols) in a complex form with Co2+ ions. A range of techniques was used to characterize the Co2+ [...] Read more.
In this work, a green approach was implemented to prepare polymer composites using polyvinyl alcohol polymer and the extract of black tea leaves (polyphenols) in a complex form with Co2+ ions. A range of techniques was used to characterize the Co2+ complex and polymer composite, such as Ultraviolet–visible (UV-Visible) spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The optical parameters of absorption edge, refractive index (n), dielectric properties including real and imaginary parts (εr, and εi) were also investigated. The FRIR and XRD spectra were used to examine the compatibility between the PVA polymer and Co2+-polyphenol complex. The extent of interaction was evidenced from the shifts and change in the intensity of the peaks. The relatively wide amorphous phase in PVA polymer increased upon insertion of the Co2+-polyphenol complex. The amorphous character of the Co2+ complex was emphasized with the appearance of a hump in the XRD pattern. From UV-Visible spectroscopy, the optical properties, such as absorption edge, refractive index (n), (εr), (εi), and bandgap energy (Eg) of parent PVA and composite films were specified. The Eg of PVA was lowered from 5.8 to 1.82 eV upon addition of 45 mL of Co2+-polyphenol complex. The N/m* was calculated from the optical dielectric function. Ultimately, various types of electronic transitions within the polymer composites were specified using Tauc’s method. The direct bandgap (DBG) treatment of polymer composites with a developed amorphous phase is fundamental for commercialization in optoelectronic devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optoelectronic Polymers and Devices)
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Article
Impact of PP Impurities on ABS Tensile Properties: Computational Mechanical Modelling Aspects
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1647; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101647 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 306
Abstract
Recycling of plastics is hindered by their important variety and strong incompatibility. However, sorting technologies bear costs and meet limits. Very high purities (<2 wt%) are difficult to reach. Yet, such rates may be detrimental to functional properties. In this work, an ABS [...] Read more.
Recycling of plastics is hindered by their important variety and strong incompatibility. However, sorting technologies bear costs and meet limits. Very high purities (<2 wt%) are difficult to reach. Yet, such rates may be detrimental to functional properties. In this work, an ABS matrix (major plastic in Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipments) was filled with 4 wt% of PP to mimic impurities in ABS after recycling. PP-g-MA was introduced in the blend to improve the compatibility. A finite element model was developed from the mechanical behavior of each component. ABS and PP were individually characterized from tensile tests instrumented with photomechanics and their behaviors were modelled through a set of numerical parameters (elasto-visco-plasticity with a Gurson’s criterion behavior). Comparison between the determinist model results and the experimental data (strength, volumetric variation) shows that this type of modelling could be a predictive tool in order to anticipate composite mechanical properties and to understand micromechanisms of deformation (damage, cavitation). The main result is that PP introduced at 4 wt% into ABS does not alter the static mechanical properties despite polymers incompatibility. The addition of PP-g-MA modifies the local properties and possibly conduct to a premature breakage of the polymer blend. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Multifunctional Polymer-Matrix Composites)
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Article
Novel Polyimide/Copper-Nickel Ferrite Composites with Tunable Magnetic and Dielectric Properties
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1646; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101646 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 351
Abstract
Heat-resistant magnetic polymer composites were prepared by incorporating cerium-doped copper-nickel ferrite particles, having the general formula Ni1-xCuxFe1.92Ce0.08O4 (x: 0.0, 0.3, 0.6, 1.0), into a polyimide matrix. The effects of particle type and concentration on [...] Read more.
Heat-resistant magnetic polymer composites were prepared by incorporating cerium-doped copper-nickel ferrite particles, having the general formula Ni1-xCuxFe1.92Ce0.08O4 (x: 0.0, 0.3, 0.6, 1.0), into a polyimide matrix. The effects of particle type and concentration on the thermal, magnetic, and electrical properties of the resulting composites were investigated. The samples were characterized by FTIR, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffractometry, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, vibrating sample magnetometer, and broadband dielectric spectroscopy. The composites exhibited high thermal stability, having initial decomposition temperatures between 495 and 509 °C. Saturation magnetization (Ms), magnetic remanence (Mr), and coercivity (Hc) were found in range of 2.37–10.90 emu g−1, 0.45–2.84 emu g−1, and 32–244 Oe, respectively. The study of dielectric properties revealed dielectric constant values of 3.0–4.3 and low dielectric losses of 0.016–0.197 at room temperature and a frequency of 1 Hz. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer-Based Dielectric Materials)
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Article
Determining the Optimal Conditions for the Production by Supercritical CO2 of Biodegradable PLGA Foams for the Controlled Release of Rutin as a Medical Treatment
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1645; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101645 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 374
Abstract
Poly(D,L,-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) foam samples impregnated with rutin were successfully produced by supercritical foaming processes. A number of parameters such as pressure (80–200 bar), temperature (35–55 °C), depressurization rate (5–100 bar/min), ratio lactide:glycolide of the poly(D,L,-lactide-co-glycolide) (50:50 and 75:25) were [...] Read more.
Poly(D,L,-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) foam samples impregnated with rutin were successfully produced by supercritical foaming processes. A number of parameters such as pressure (80–200 bar), temperature (35–55 °C), depressurization rate (5–100 bar/min), ratio lactide:glycolide of the poly(D,L,-lactide-co-glycolide) (50:50 and 75:25) were studied to determine their effect on the expansion factor and on the glass transition temperature of the polymer foams and their consequences on the release profile of the rutin entrapped in them. The impregnated foams were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and mercury intrusion porosimetry. A greater impregnation of rutin into the polymer foam pores was observed as pressure was increased. The release of rutin in a phosphate buffer solution was investigated. The controlled release tests confirmed that the modification of certain variables would result in considerable differences in the drug release profiles. Thus, five-day drug release periods were achieved under high pressure and temperature while the depressurization rate remained low. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Foams: Processing and Characterization)
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Article
Creep and Recovery Behavior of Continuous Fiber-Reinforced 3DP Composites
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101644 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 403
Abstract
The commercial availability of 3D printers for continuous fiber-reinforced 3D-printed (CFR3DP) composites has attracted researchers to evaluate the thermomechanical properties of these materials. The improvement of strength through chopped or continuous fiber reinforcements in polymers could provide remarkable results, and its exploration can [...] Read more.
The commercial availability of 3D printers for continuous fiber-reinforced 3D-printed (CFR3DP) composites has attracted researchers to evaluate the thermomechanical properties of these materials. The improvement of strength through chopped or continuous fiber reinforcements in polymers could provide remarkable results, and its exploration can provide broad applications in several industries. The evaluation of mechanical properties of these materials at elevated temperatures is vital for their utilization in severe operating conditions. This study provides insight into the effect of different fiber reinforcements (Kevlar, fiberglass, and high-strength high-temperature fiberglass) and temperatures on the creep and recovery behavior of CFR3DP Onyx composites. Experimental results were also compared with analytical models, i.e., Burger’s model and Weibull distribution function, for creep and recovery. Results from analytical models agreed well with experimental results for all the materials and temperatures. A significant drop in maximum and residual strains was observed due to the introduction of fibers. However, the creep resistance of all the materials was affected at higher temperatures. Minimum creep strain was observed for Onyx-FG at 120 °C; however, at the same temperature, the minimum residual strain was observed for Onyx-KF. Based on the analytical models and experimental results, the role of fiber reinforcements on the improvement of creep and recovery performance is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Composite)
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Article
On the Effectiveness of Oxygen Plasma and Alkali Surface Treatments to Modify the Properties of Polylactic Acid Scaffolds
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1643; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101643 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 297
Abstract
Surface modification of 3D-printed PLA structures is a major issue in terms of increasing the biofunctionality and expanding the tissue engineering applications of these parts. In this paper, different exposure times were used for low-pressure oxygen plasma applied to PLA 3D-printed scaffolds. Alkali [...] Read more.
Surface modification of 3D-printed PLA structures is a major issue in terms of increasing the biofunctionality and expanding the tissue engineering applications of these parts. In this paper, different exposure times were used for low-pressure oxygen plasma applied to PLA 3D-printed scaffolds. Alkali surface treatments were also evaluated, aiming to compare the modifications introduced on the surface properties by each strategy. Surface-treated samples were characterized through the quantification of carboxyl groups, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, water contact angle measurements, and differential scanning calorimetry analysis. The change in the surface properties was studied over a two-week period. In addition, an enzymatic degradation analysis was carried out to evaluate the effect of the surface treatments on the degradation profile of the 3D structures. The physicochemical characterization results suggest different mechanism pathways for each type of treatment. Alkali-treated scaffolds showed a higher concentration of carboxyl groups on their surface, which enhanced the enzymatic degradation rate, but were also proven to be more aggressive towards 3D-printed structures. In contrast, the application of the plasma treatments led to an increased hydrophilicity of the PLA surface without affecting the bulk properties. However, the changes on the properties were less steady over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plasma Processes for Polymers)
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Article
Evaluation of Dispersion Methods and Mechanical Behaviour of Glass Fibre Composites with Embedded Self-Healing Systems
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1642; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101642 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 449
Abstract
The present paper is focused on evaluating the most suitable dispersion method in the epoxy matrix of two self-healing systems containing dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and 5-ethylidene-2-norbornene (ENB) monomers encapsulated in a urea-formaldehyde (UF) shell, prior to integration, fabrication and impact testing of specimens. Both [...] Read more.
The present paper is focused on evaluating the most suitable dispersion method in the epoxy matrix of two self-healing systems containing dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and 5-ethylidene-2-norbornene (ENB) monomers encapsulated in a urea-formaldehyde (UF) shell, prior to integration, fabrication and impact testing of specimens. Both microstructural analysis and three-point bending tests were performed to evaluate and assess the optimum dispersion method. It was found that ultrasonication damages the microcapsules of both healing systems, thus magnetic stirring was used for the dispersion of both healing systems in the epoxy matrix. Using magnetic dispersion, 5%, 7%, 10%, 12% and 15% volumes of microcapsules were embedded in glass fibre composites. Some of the samples were subjected to thermal cycling between −20 °C and +100 °C for 8 h, to evaluate the behaviour of both healing systems after temperature variation. Impact test results showed that the mechanical behaviour decreases with increasing microcapsule volume, while for specimens subjected to thermal cycling, the impact strength increases with microcapsule volume up to 10%, after which a severe drop in impact strength follows. Retesting after 48 h shows a major drop in mechanical properties in specimens containing 15% MUF-ENB microcapsules, up to total penetration of the specimen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Epoxy-Based Materials)
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Review
Recent Developments in Ion-Sensitive Systems for Pharmaceutical Applications
Polymers 2021, 13(10), 1641; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13101641 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 384
Abstract
Stimuli-responsive carriers of pharmaceutical agents have been extensively researched in recent decades due to the possibility of distinctively precise targeted drug delivery. One of the potentially beneficial strategies is based on the response of the medical device to changes in the ionic environment. [...] Read more.
Stimuli-responsive carriers of pharmaceutical agents have been extensively researched in recent decades due to the possibility of distinctively precise targeted drug delivery. One of the potentially beneficial strategies is based on the response of the medical device to changes in the ionic environment. Fluctuations in ionic strength and ionic composition associated with pathological processes may provide triggers sufficient to induce an advantageous carrier response. This review is focused on recent developments and novel strategies in the design of ion-responsive drug delivery systems. A variety of structures i.e., polymeric matrices, lipid carriers, nucleoside constructs, and metal-organic frameworks, were included in the scope of the summary. Recently proposed strategies aim to induce different pharmaceutically beneficial effects: localized drug release in the desired manner, mucoadhesive properties, increased residence time, or diagnostic signal emission. The current state of development of ion-sensitive drug delivery systems enabled the marketing of some responsive topical formulations. Concurrently, ongoing research is focused on more selective and complex systems for different administration routes. The potential benefits in therapeutic efficacy and safety associated with the employment of multi-responsive systems will prospectively result in further research and applicable solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Function of Polymers in Encapsulation Process)
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