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Date of Award

9-2011

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Physics

First Advisor

Thomas P. Russell

Second Advisor

Anthony D. Dinsmore

Third Advisor

Narayanan Menon

Subject Categories

Condensed Matter Physics | Materials Science and Engineering

Abstract

Nowadays, solid "filler" particles can be found in many manufactured polymeric materials because of the enhanced thermal and mechanical properties these particles can offer. However, the influence of the "filler" particles, especially those with size on a nanoscopic scale, on the structural evolution of multicomponent systems, is still poorly understood. In this thesis, the spinodal decomposition (SD) of polystyrene/poly(vinyl methyl ether) (PS/PVME) polymer blend system mixed with different nanoparticles have been investigated by the small angle light scattering (SALS) technique. Interpreting the data using the Cahn-Hilliard linear theory and the scaling theory on early stage and late stage, respectively, we concluded that the addition of nanoparticles into the pure polymer blends can cause a retardation of the phase separation. Furthermore, experiments on polystyrene/poly(2-vinyl pyridine) (PS/P2VP) polymer blends mixed with polystyrene-covered gold nanoparticles (Au-PS) have shown that during the spinodal decomposition these Au-PS nanoparticles can self-assemble at the continuous PS/P2VP interface, due to the tendency to reduce interfacial energy, making it possible to create the so-called "bijel" structure (bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion jel). We believe that the "bijel" structures have a huge potential of being used in areas such as photovoltaics and catalysis, because of their large surface areas.

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