Role of Surface-Treated Silica Nanoparticles on the Thermo-Mechanical Behavior of Poly(Lactide)
Surface-treated fumed silica nanoparticles were added at various concentrations (from 1 to 24 vol%) to a commercial poly(lactide) or poly(lactic acid) (PLA) matrix specifically designed for packaging applications. Thermo-mechanical behavior of the resulting nanocomposites was investigated. Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) micrographs revealed how a homogeneous nanofiller dispersion was obtained even at elevated filler amounts, with a positive influence of the thermal degradation stability of the materials. Modelization of Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) curves through the Avrami&ndash;Ozawa model demonstrated that fumed silica nanoparticles did not substantially affect the crystallization behavior of the material. On the other hand, nanosilica addition was responsible for significant improvements of the storage modulus (E&prime;) above the glass transition temperature and of the Vicat grade. Multifrequency DMTA tests showed that the stabilizing effect due to nanosilica introduction could be effective over the whole range of testing frequencies. Sumita model was used to evaluate the level of filler dispersion. The obtained results demonstrated the potential of functionalized silica nanoparticles in improving the thermo-mechanical stability of biodegradable matrices for packaging applications, especially at elevated service temperatures.