Melt extrusion and blow molding parts?per?million POSS interspersed the macromolecular network and simultaneously enhanced thermomechanical and barrier properties of polyolefin films
Dispersion of parts?per?million (ppm) polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane nanochemicals by melt extrusion with polyolefins increased the tensile modulus and yield stress without penalizing extensibility. Surface and transport properties were also enhanced. The key is matching nanoparticle size to tube diameter dt, that is, physical properties maximized at /dt~1.There has been the expectation that polymers filled with small concentrations of nanosized particles will exhibit superior thermomechanical properties. We demonstrate that dispersing parts?per?million (ppm) polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) nanochemicals by melt extrusion with polyolefins increased the tensile Young's modulus, yield stress, and toughness of blow molded and extruded films without penalizing extensibility, which is common to polymers reinforced with nano/microparticles. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the key to mechanical reinforcement is the spatial distribution of POSS at ca. single nanocage thus enabling interspersion of the macromolecular network. The thermal stability, water contact angle, and oxygen transmission of the films were also enhanced enabling a single component food package capable to keep food without decay for two weeks. The physical properties are improved when the nanoparticle size is about the size of the virtual tube diameter dt, that is, /dt???1. The enhancement of physical properties by placing the nanoparticle in the free space of the molecular network is a new paradigm in engineering polymer nanocomposites and opens opportunities for recyclable single component packaging films and tunable lightweight engineering and biomimetic materials.