Special Issue "Polymer and Composite Aerogels "

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 July 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Lei Zhai

1. NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32826, USA
2. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32826, USA
3. Department of Chemistry, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32826, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +(407)882-2847
Fax: +(407)882-2819
Interests: polymer and ceramic composites of carbon nanotubes and graphene; polyelectrolytes; conjugated polymers; self-assembly; surface science and engineering
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Tianxi Liu

1. State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemical Fibers and Polymer Materials, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China
2. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China
3. Innovation Center for Textile Science and Technology, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China
Website | E-Mail
Interests: polymer nanocomposites; nanofiber composites; polymer composite aerogels; energy storage materials and devices

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Aerogels, often referred as “frozen smoke”, are highly porous materials with extremely low density and high specific surface area. Traditional inorganic aerogels, such as silica aerogels, are used as thermal and acoustic insulators, low dielectric substrates, and fire-resistant materials. Their properties and applications are limited by the choice of materials and fabrication approaches. On the other hand, polymer and other functional materials have provided many choices of materials, introduced additional properties, including toughness, flexibility and electrical conductivity, to aerogels, and offered more cost-effective methods to produce aerogels with controlled composition and structures. For example, carbon nanotubes and graphene have been used with polymers to produce highly flexible and electrical conductive aerogels. Graphene hybrid aerogels with complex architecture have been produced through 3D printing. This Special Issue is intended to report recent progress in the production and application of polymer and composite aerogels and provide valuable guidelines to design polymer and composite aerogels for next generation applications.

Dr. Lei Zhai
Prof. Dr. Tianxi Liu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Polymers
  • Composite
  • Porous
  • Aerogels
  • Nanostructures
  • Electrical Conductive
  • Flexible
  • Multifunctional

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Facile Fabrication of a Novel PZT@PPy Aerogel/Epoxy Resin Composite with Improved Damping Property
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 977; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11060977
Received: 7 May 2019 / Revised: 26 May 2019 / Accepted: 30 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
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Abstract
A novel lead zirconate titanate@polypyrrole (PZT@PPy) aerogel (PPA) was fabricated via in-situ polymerization and subsequent freeze-drying method. The porous PPA was then saturated with epoxy resin to obtain the PPA/epoxy composite (PPAE) by a simple vacuum filling method. In this way, the filler [...] Read more.
A novel lead zirconate titanate@polypyrrole (PZT@PPy) aerogel (PPA) was fabricated via in-situ polymerization and subsequent freeze-drying method. The porous PPA was then saturated with epoxy resin to obtain the PPA/epoxy composite (PPAE) by a simple vacuum filling method. In this way, the filler content and dispersion uniformity are well guaranteed, which is in favor of improving the damping and mechanical properties of composites. The morphology and structure of PPAs were investigated using XRD, SEM, EDS and nitrogen absorption and desorption measurements. The results showed that the PPA possessed a three-dimensional porous structure with uniform lead zirconate titanate (PZT) distribution. The influence of PZT content on the damping property of PPAE composite was investigated by dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). PPAE-75 (i.e., the mass ratio of PZT to PPy is 75 wt %) exhibited the maximum damping loss factor value, 360% higher than that of the epoxy matrix, suggesting good structural damping performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Synthesis and Characterization of Graphene Oxide/Chitosan Composite Aerogels with High Mechanical Performance
Polymers 2019, 11(5), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11050777
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 18 March 2019 / Accepted: 29 March 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
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Abstract
Chitosan, a semi-crystalline biomolecule, has attracted wide attention due to its high synthesis flexibility. In this study, to improve the mechanical properties of chitosan aerogels (CSAs), graphene oxide (GO) was extracted and introduced into chitosan aerogels as fillers. The porous CSAs/GO composite aerogels [...] Read more.
Chitosan, a semi-crystalline biomolecule, has attracted wide attention due to its high synthesis flexibility. In this study, to improve the mechanical properties of chitosan aerogels (CSAs), graphene oxide (GO) was extracted and introduced into chitosan aerogels as fillers. The porous CSAs/GO composite aerogels were fabricated by an environmentally friendly freeze-drying process with different GO contents (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, wt.%). The characteristics of the CSAs/GO were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), mechanical measurements and mercury porosimeter. The crystallinity of samples was characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD). The mechanism of the effect of graphene oxide on chitosan was studied by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The results show that the microstructure of the samples is developed in the network structure. The porosity of CSAs/GO aerogels is as high as 87.6%, and the tensile strength of the films increased from 6.60 MPa to 10.56 MPa with the recombination of graphene oxide. The crystallinity (CrI) of composite aerogels increased from 27% to 81%, which indicates that graphene oxide improves the mechanical properties of chitosan by chemical crosslinking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation of Hierarchical Porous Carbon Aerogels by Microwave Assisted Sol-Gel Process for Supercapacitors
Polymers 2019, 11(3), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11030429
Received: 27 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
Low-cost resorcinol formaldehyde (RF) organic aerogels were prepared by using resorcinol and formaldehyde as precursors, and sodium hydroxide as a catalyst through a single-mode microwave radiation-assisted sol-gel method and ambient temperature drying. Because of the ring focusing and power-max technology, the fabrication procedure [...] Read more.
Low-cost resorcinol formaldehyde (RF) organic aerogels were prepared by using resorcinol and formaldehyde as precursors, and sodium hydroxide as a catalyst through a single-mode microwave radiation-assisted sol-gel method and ambient temperature drying. Because of the ring focusing and power-max technology, the fabrication procedure of carbon aerogels (CAs) are much easier, faster, and cheaper than traditional methods. The RF aerogels were then pyrolysized at 900 °C, and the KOH activation process was used to further dredge micropores in the carbon aerogels. The CAs were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), nitrogen adsorption/desorption, and a series of electrochemical tests. The KOH activated carbon aerogels with 3D-nano-network structure exhibited a high specific surface area of 2230 m2 g−1 with appropriate pore volumes of micro-, meso-, and macropores. The specific capacitance of CAs activated by KOH measured in a two-electrode cell was 170 F g−1 at 0.5 A g−1 with excellent rate capability and cycle stability in 6 M KOH electrolyte. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Sodium Montmorillonite on the Preparation and Properties of Cellulose Aerogels
Polymers 2019, 11(3), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11030415
Received: 28 December 2018 / Revised: 17 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 4 March 2019
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Abstract
In this study, first, a green and efficient NaOH/urea aqueous solution system was used to dissolve cellulose. Second, the resulting solution was mixed with sodium montmorillonite. Third, a cellulose/montmorillonite aerogel with a three-dimensional porous structure was prepared via a sol-gel process, solvent exchange [...] Read more.
In this study, first, a green and efficient NaOH/urea aqueous solution system was used to dissolve cellulose. Second, the resulting solution was mixed with sodium montmorillonite. Third, a cellulose/montmorillonite aerogel with a three-dimensional porous structure was prepared via a sol-gel process, solvent exchange and freeze-drying. The viscoelastic analysis results showed that the addition of montmorillonite accelerated the sol-gel process in the cellulose solution. During this process, montmorillonite adhered to the cellulose substrate surface via hydrogen bonding and then became embedded in the pore structure of the cellulose aerogel. As a result, the pore diameter of the aerogel decreased and the specific surface area of the aerogel increased. Furthermore, the addition of montmorillonite increased the compressive modulus and density of the cellulose aerogel and reduced volume shrinkage during the preparation process. In addition, the oil/water adsorption capacities of cellulose aerogels and cellulose/montmorillon aerogels were investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Facile Synthesis of Methylsilsesquioxane Aerogels with Uniform Mesopores by Microwave Drying
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020375
Received: 10 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 16 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
Methylsilsesquioxane (MSQ) aerogels with uniform mesopores were facilely prepared via a sol–gel process followed by microwave drying with methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) as a precursor, hydrochloric acid (HCl) as a catalyst, water and methanol as solvents, hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) as a surfactant and template, and [...] Read more.
Methylsilsesquioxane (MSQ) aerogels with uniform mesopores were facilely prepared via a sol–gel process followed by microwave drying with methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) as a precursor, hydrochloric acid (HCl) as a catalyst, water and methanol as solvents, hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) as a surfactant and template, and propylene oxide (PO) as a gelation agent. The microstructure, chemical composition, and pore structures of the resultant MSQ aerogels were investigated in detail to achieve controllable preparation of MSQ aerogels, and the thermal stability of MSQ aerogels was also analyzed. The gelation agent, catalyst, solvent, and microwave power have important roles related to the pore structures of MSQ aerogels. Meanwhile, the microwave drying method was found to not only have a remarkable effect on improving production efficiency, but also to be conducive to avoiding the collapse of pore structure (especially micropores) during drying. The resulting MSQ aerogel microwave-dried at 500 W possessed a specific surface area up to 821 m2/g and a mesopore size of 20 nm, and displayed good thermal stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Phase Behavior of a Carbon Dioxide/Methyl Trimethoxy Silane/Polystyrene Ternary System
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020246
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 28 January 2019 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
Recently, polymeric foams filled with a silica aerogel have been developed. The phase behavior of CO2/silicon alkoxide binary systems and CO2/silicon alkoxide/polymer ternary systems is an important factor that affects the design of novel processes. The phase behavior of [...] Read more.
Recently, polymeric foams filled with a silica aerogel have been developed. The phase behavior of CO2/silicon alkoxide binary systems and CO2/silicon alkoxide/polymer ternary systems is an important factor that affects the design of novel processes. The phase behavior of a carbon dioxide (CO2)/methyl trimethoxy silane (MTMS)/polystyrene (PS) ternary system was measured using a synthetic method involving the observation of the bubble and cloud point. The phase boundaries were measured at temperatures ranging from 313.2 to 393.2 K and CO2 weight fractions between 0.01 and 0.08. The CO2/MTMS/PS system showed a similar CO2 mass fraction dependence of the phase behavior to that observed for the CO2/tetramethyl orthosilicate (TMOS)/PS system. When the phase boundaries of these systems were compared, the vapor-liquid (VL) and vapor-liquid-liquid (VLL) lines were found to be nearly identical, while the liquid-liquid (LL) lines were different. These results indicate that the affinity between the silicon alkoxide and polymer greatly influences the liquid-liquid phase separation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Composite Aerogels of Carbon Nanocellulose Fibers and Mixed-Valent Manganese Oxides as Renewable Supercapacitor Electrodes
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010129
Received: 2 December 2018 / Revised: 2 January 2019 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 13 January 2019
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Abstract
Bio-waste derived nanocelluloses show excellent mechanical flexibility and self-aggregated capability, which enable them to be good supporting substrates for the synthesis of electroactive materials. Herein, we present a facile route for fabricating composite aerogels consisting of carbonized nanocellulose fibers (CNF) and mixed-valent manganese [...] Read more.
Bio-waste derived nanocelluloses show excellent mechanical flexibility and self-aggregated capability, which enable them to be good supporting substrates for the synthesis of electroactive materials. Herein, we present a facile route for fabricating composite aerogels consisting of carbonized nanocellulose fibers (CNF) and mixed-valent manganese oxide (MnOx), toward supercapacitor applications. Mixed solutions of nanocellulose and manganese acetate with different ratios were prepared and freeze-dried into hybrid aerogels. The hybrid aerogels were then transformed into CNF/MnOx composites by a calcination process. The CNF membranes served as porous carbon nano-reservoirs for MnOx and electrolyte. The CNF/MnOx composites also kept a 3D porous aerogel structure with hierarchical pores, which enabled stable transport of both electrolyte ions and electrons to the electrode surface, leading to low a charge-transfer impedance and good electrochemical kinetics. The CNF/MnOx-based symmetric supercapacitor showed a satisfied energy density and power density of 37.5 Wh kg−1 and 2.75 kW kg−1, respectively. All the above results demonstrate the feasibility of using sustainable nanocellulose as a nanoscale carbon substrate for the synthesis of hybrid composite electrodes toward renewable supercapacitor applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Glucose/Graphene-Based Aerogels for Gas Adsorption and Electric Double Layer Capacitors
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010040
Received: 20 October 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 22 December 2018 / Published: 28 December 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4717 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In this study, three-dimensional glucose/graphene-based aerogels (G/GAs) were synthesized using the hydrothermal reduction and CO2 activation method. Graphene oxide (GO) was used as a matrix, and glucose was used as a binder for the orientation of the GO morphology in an aqueous [...] Read more.
In this study, three-dimensional glucose/graphene-based aerogels (G/GAs) were synthesized using the hydrothermal reduction and CO2 activation method. Graphene oxide (GO) was used as a matrix, and glucose was used as a binder for the orientation of the GO morphology in an aqueous media. We determined that G/GAs exhibited narrow mesopore size distribution, a high surface area (763 m2 g−1), and hierarchical macroporous and mesoporous structures. These features contributed to G/GAs being promising adsorbents for the removal of CO2 (76.5 mg g−1 at 298 K), CH4 (16.8 mg g−1 at 298 K), and H2 (12.1 mg g−1 at 77 K). G/GAs presented excellent electrochemical performance, featuring a high specific capacitance of 305.5 F g−1 at 1 A g−1, and good cyclic stability of 98.5% retention after 10,000 consecutive charge-discharge cycles at 10 A g−1. This study provided an efficient approach for preparing graphene aerogels exhibiting hierarchical porosity for gas adsorption and supercapacitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable, Low Flammability, Mechanically-Strong Poly(vinyl alcohol) Aerogels
Polymers 2018, 10(10), 1102; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10101102
Received: 24 September 2018 / Revised: 2 October 2018 / Accepted: 2 October 2018 / Published: 5 October 2018
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Abstract
Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), tannic acid (TA) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) were used to prepare low-flammability, mechanically-strong aerogels via an environmentally-friendly freeze-drying method. Because of the strong interaction between TA and PVA through hydrogen bonds, PVA/TA/NaOH aerogels exhibited compressive moduli as high as 12.7 [...] Read more.
Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), tannic acid (TA) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) were used to prepare low-flammability, mechanically-strong aerogels via an environmentally-friendly freeze-drying method. Because of the strong interaction between TA and PVA through hydrogen bonds, PVA/TA/NaOH aerogels exhibited compressive moduli as high as 12.7 MPa, 20 times that of the control PVA aerogel. The microstructure of the aerogels in this study showed that the addition of NaOH disrupted the typical “card of house” aerogel structure, while the samples with TA showed a stereoscopic uniform structure. The thermal stabilities of aerogels were tested by thermogravimetric analysis, showing both a decrease on the onset of decomposition temperature, and a reduction in decomposition rate after initial char formation. The peak heat release rate and total heat release, as measured by cone calorimetry, dropped by 69% and 54%, respectively, after adding TA and NaOH. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Nanomaterials in Advanced, High-Performance Aerogel Composites: A Review
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040726
Received: 17 March 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 April 2019 / Published: 20 April 2019
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Abstract
Aerogels are one of the most interesting materials of the 21st century owing to their high porosity, low density, and large available surface area. Historically, aerogels have been used for highly efficient insulation and niche applications, such as interstellar particle capture. Recently, aerogels [...] Read more.
Aerogels are one of the most interesting materials of the 21st century owing to their high porosity, low density, and large available surface area. Historically, aerogels have been used for highly efficient insulation and niche applications, such as interstellar particle capture. Recently, aerogels have made their way into the composite universe. By coupling nanomaterial with a variety of matrix materials, lightweight, high-performance composite aerogels have been developed for applications ranging from lithium-ion batteries to tissue engineering materials. In this paper, the current status of aerogel composites based on nanomaterials is reviewed and their application in environmental remediation, energy storage, controlled drug delivery, tissue engineering, and biosensing are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer and Composite Aerogels )
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Dr. Natalia Valchuk

Tentative title: Design and characterization of aerogel materials based on sodium alginate‒chitosan interpolyelectrolyte complexes

Dr. Yun Lu

Tentative title: Cellulose Based Functional Aerogels: Processing and Applications

Dr. Yuchao Li

Tentative title: Facile fabrication of a novel PZT@PPy aerogel/epoxy resin composite with improved damping property

Dr. Kyu-Young Kang

Tentative title: To be determined

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