Polymer composites interphase imaging

N. Chen, C. Davis, M. Wang, J. Woodcock, M. Zammarano, M. Stocker, I.A. Sacui, J.A. Liddle, G. Holmes, J. Hyun Kim, R. Beams, S.J. Stranick, D.M. Fox, F. Vollrath, D. Shah, J.W. Gilman
United States

Keywords: composite, imaging


Polymer composites are currently used in aerospace, electronics and recreation. New uses are being explored in infrastructure, light-weight vehicles, and in alternative energy applications, such as solar and wind. Arguably the most critical feature of a composite is the interface/interphase. The interphase in a polymer composite is the volume of polymer adjacent to the fiber interface, and it can comprise up to 30 % of the polymer when nano-scale additives are used. The interphase controls the effectiveness with which the nanoparticle and polymer interact to produce enhanced properties, but it remains a poorly characterized phase. Characterization of polymer dynamics in the interphase is necessary to enable development of next generation composite materials. The development of measurements capable of probing polymer dynamics on length scales, comparable to that of the interphase (1 nm -200 nm), is necessary to enable the development of the fundamental structure property and process-property knowledge. This is especially true for emergent materials such as bio-based polymers composites utilizing silk and nanocellulose fibers. This presentation will highlight recent advancements in applying mechanochromic dyes, hyperspectral imaging and fluorescence life-time microscopy to imaging the interphase in polymer composites.