attractive interaction between functional groups on polymers and nanoparticles. Enf-grafted homopolymers and identical matrix polymers.


Technology This invention concerns a simple method for dispersing nanoparticles within a polymer matrix. Nanoparticles can impart beneficial properties to polymer matrices, but these enhancements depend  sensitively on the level of distribution of particles. The invention uses random copolymers that can be easily grafted to nanoparticles with reactive moieties (Fig A). These design features promote interactions between copolymers and nanoparticles, leading to a well-dispersed polymer matrix (Fig B). Other approaches rely on attraction between polymer functional groups and nanoparticles or utilize end-grafted homopolymers. The former approach relies on compatible chemistry between the functional groups and nanoparticles, and is not easily generalized to different particle and polymer matrix chemistries. With the end-grafted homopolymer approach, it can be synthetically challenging to achieve good particle dispersion. By contrast, the random copolymer grafting approach is generalizable to a wide range of polymer and particle combinations and synthetically simple.   

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