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Polymers, Volume 7, Issue 2 (February 2015) , Pages 161-372

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Open AccessReview
Interfacial Layer Engineering for Performance Enhancement in Polymer Solar Cells
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 333-372; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020333 - 17 Feb 2015
Cited by 57 | Viewed by 6356
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Flame Retardancy of PA6 Using a Guanidine Sulfamate/Melamine Polyphosphate Mixture
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 316-332; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020316 - 13 Feb 2015
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3631
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Flame Retardant Polymers)
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Open AccessArticle
Flame Retardance and Physical Properties of Novel Cured Blends of Unsaturated Polyester and Furan Resins
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 298-315; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020298 - 11 Feb 2015
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 4053
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Flame Retardant Polymers)
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Open AccessReview
Active Peptide-Conjugated Chitosan Matrices as an Artificial Basement Membrane
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 281-297; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020281 - 11 Feb 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3115
Abstract
The basement membrane, a thin extracellular matrix, plays a critical role in tissue development and repair. Laminins are the major component of basement membrane and have diverse biological activities. We have identified various cell-adhesive peptides from laminins and their specific cell surface receptors. [...] Read more.
The basement membrane, a thin extracellular matrix, plays a critical role in tissue development and repair. Laminins are the major component of basement membrane and have diverse biological activities. We have identified various cell-adhesive peptides from laminins and their specific cell surface receptors. Polysaccharides, including chitosan, have been used as scaffolds, which regulate cellular functions for tissue engineering. We have developed laminin-derived active peptide-chitosan matrices as functional scaffolds. The biological activity of the peptides was enhanced when the peptides were conjugated to a chitosan matrix, suggesting that the peptide-chitosan matrix approach has an advantage for an active biomaterial. Further, the laminin peptide-chitosan matrices have the potential to mimic the basement membrane and are useful for tissue engineering as an artificial basement membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Polysaccharides)
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Open AccessArticle
P(MMA-EMA) Random Copolymer Electrolytes Incorporating Sodium Iodide for Potential Application in a Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 266-280; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020266 - 09 Feb 2015
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2740
Abstract
Polymer electrolytes based on 90 wt% of methyl methacrylate and 10 wt% of ethyl methacrylate (90MMA-co-10EMA) incorporating different weight ratios of sodium iodide were prepared using the solution casting method. The complexation between salt and copolymer host has been investigated using Fourier transform [...] Read more.
Polymer electrolytes based on 90 wt% of methyl methacrylate and 10 wt% of ethyl methacrylate (90MMA-co-10EMA) incorporating different weight ratios of sodium iodide were prepared using the solution casting method. The complexation between salt and copolymer host has been investigated using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The ionic conductivity and thermal stability of the electrolytes were measured using impedance spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry, respectively. Scanning electron microscopy was used to study the morphology of the polymer electrolytes. The ionic conductivity and glass transition temperature increased up to 20 wt% of sodium iodide (5.19 × 10−6 S·cm−1) and decreased with the further addition of salt concentration, because of the crosslinked effect. The morphology behavior of the highest conducting sample also showed smaller pores compared to the other concentration. The total ionic transference number proved that this system was mainly due to ions, and the electrochemical stability window was up to 2.5 V, which is suitable for a dye-sensitized solar cell application. This sample was then tested in a dye-sensitized solar cell and exhibited an efficiency of 0.62%. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Poriferan Chitin as a Versatile Template for Extreme Biomimetics
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 235-265; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020235 - 09 Feb 2015
Cited by 85 | Viewed by 4701
Abstract
In this mini-review, we shall first cover a short history of the discovery of chitin isolated from sponges; as well as its evolutionarily ancient roots. Next, we will delve into the unique structural, mechanical, and thermal properties of this naturally occurring polymer to [...] Read more.
In this mini-review, we shall first cover a short history of the discovery of chitin isolated from sponges; as well as its evolutionarily ancient roots. Next, we will delve into the unique structural, mechanical, and thermal properties of this naturally occurring polymer to illuminate how its physicochemical properties may find uses in diverse areas of the material sciences. We show how the unique properties and morphology of sponge chitin renders it quite useful for the new route of “Extreme Biomimetics”; where high temperatures and pressures allow a range of interesting bioinorganic composite materials to be made. These new biomaterials have electrical, chemical, and material properties that have applications in water filtration, medicine, catalysis, and biosensing. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Polysaccharides)
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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Halogen Free Flame Retardant Masterbatch for Polypropylene Fibers
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 220-234; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020220 - 09 Feb 2015
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3297
Abstract
The efficiency of new phosphinates, in combination with melamine cyanurate, was studied using different polypropylene textile structures. The influence of different ratios up to a total amount of 6 wt% in the polypropylene fiber was investigated using the limiting oxygen index (LOI) and [...] Read more.
The efficiency of new phosphinates, in combination with melamine cyanurate, was studied using different polypropylene textile structures. The influence of different ratios up to a total amount of 6 wt% in the polypropylene fiber was investigated using the limiting oxygen index (LOI) and cone calorimeter method for research purposes, while the performances were correlated to the standards FMVSS 302 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and DIN 4102-l (Deutsches Institut für Normung) used more specifically for automotive and building sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Flame Retardant Polymers)
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Open AccessReview
Multifunctional Nanofibers towards Active Biomedical Therapeutics
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 186-219; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020186 - 03 Feb 2015
Cited by 41 | Viewed by 3581
Abstract
One-dimensional (1-D) nanostructures have attracted enormous research interest due to their unique physicochemical properties and wide application potential. These 1-D nanofibers are being increasingly applied to biomedical fields owing to their high surface area-to-volume ratio, high porosity, and the ease of tuning their [...] Read more.
One-dimensional (1-D) nanostructures have attracted enormous research interest due to their unique physicochemical properties and wide application potential. These 1-D nanofibers are being increasingly applied to biomedical fields owing to their high surface area-to-volume ratio, high porosity, and the ease of tuning their structures, functionalities, and properties. Many biomedical nanofiber reviews have focused on tissue engineering and drug delivery applications but have very rarely discussed their use as wound dressings. However, nanofibers have enormous potential as wound dressings and other clinical applications that could have wide impacts on the treatment of wounds. Herein, the authors review the main fabrication methods of nanofibers as well as requirements, strategies, and recent applications of nanofibers, and provide perspectives of the challenges and opportunities that face multifunctional nanofibers for active therapeutic applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Direct Determination of Chitosan–Mucin Interactions Using a Single-Molecule Strategy: Comparison to Alginate–Mucin Interactions
Polymers 2015, 7(2), 161-185; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym7020161 - 29 Jan 2015
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3785
Abstract
Aqueous chitosan possesses attractive interaction capacities with various molecular groups that can be involved in hydrogen bonds and electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. In the present paper, we report on the direct determination of chitosan–mucin molecular pair interactions at various solvent conditions as compared [...] Read more.
Aqueous chitosan possesses attractive interaction capacities with various molecular groups that can be involved in hydrogen bonds and electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. In the present paper, we report on the direct determination of chitosan–mucin molecular pair interactions at various solvent conditions as compared to alginate–mucin interactions. Two chitosans of high molecular weight with different degrees of acetylation—thus possessing different solubility profiles in aqueous solution as a function of pH and two alginates with different fractions of α-guluronic acid were employed. The interaction properties were determined through a direct unbinding assay at the single-molecular pair level using an atomic force microscope. When probed against immobilized mucin, both chitosans and alginates revealed unbinding profiles characteristic of localized interactions along the polymers. The interaction capacities and estimated parameters of the energy landscapes of the pairwise chitosan–mucin and alginate–mucin interactions are discussed in view of possible contributions from various fundamental forces. Signatures arising both from an electrostatic mechanism and hydrophobic interaction are identified in the chitosan–mucin interaction properties. The molecular nature of the observed chitosan–mucin and alginate–mucin interactions indicates that force spectroscopy provides fundamental insights that can be useful in understanding the surface binding properties of other potentially mucoadhesive polymers. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Polysaccharides)
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