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Manipulating polymers and composites from the nanoscopic to microscopic length scales

Suresh Gupta, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This thesis focuses on the manipulation of polymers and composites on length scales ranging from the nanoscopic to microscopic. In particular, on the microscopic length scale electric fields were used to produce instabilities at the air surface and at polymer interfaces that lead to novel three dimensional structures and patterns. On the nanoscopic length scale, the interaction of ligands attached to nanoparticles and polymer matrix were used to induce self-assembly processes that, in turn, lead to systems that self-heal, self-corral, or are patterned. For manipulation at the micron length scale, electrohydrodynamic instabilities were used in trilayer system composed of a layer of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), a second layer of polystyrene (PS) and a third layer of air. Dewetting of the polymer at the substrate at the polymer/polymer interface under an applied electric field was used to generate novel three dimensional structures. Also, electrohydrodynamic instabilities were used to pattern thin polymer films in conjunction with ultrasonic vibrations and patterned upper electrodes. Self-assembly processes involving polymers and nanoparticles offer a unique means of generating pattern materials or materials that self heal. Simple polymer/nanoparticle composites were investigated. Here, in the absence of interactions between the poly(ethylene oxide) ligands attached to the nanoparticles and PMMA polymer matrix, the opportunity to generate self-healing systems was opened. The size of the nanoparticle was varied and the effect on diffusion of nanoparticle in the polymer matrix was studied. CdSe nanorods were also assembled on a substrate templated with or guided by microphase separated diblock copolymers. The nanorods were incorporated in the diblock copolymer thin films by spin coating the co-solution of nanorods and polymer, surface adsorption of nanorods on to the patterned diblock copolymer films and surface reconstruction of PS/PMMA diblock copolymer thin film. Further, the interactions between the PMMA polymer matrix and the tri n-octyl phosphine oxide ligands attached to an anisotropic nanoparticle, i.e. nanorods, were used to influence the dispersion of the nanorods in the polymer. This led to a novel assembly, termed self-corralling where under an applied electric field highly oriented, highly ordered arrays of nanorods form. Further, self corralling of nanorods was directed by chemically patterned substrates.

Subject Area

Polymer chemistry|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Gupta, Suresh, "Manipulating polymers and composites from the nanoscopic to microscopic length scales" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325120.