Polymer chain behavior in polymer nanocomposites with attractive interactions
N. Jouault, M. K. Crawford, C.Chi, R. J. Smalley, B. Wood, J. Jestin, Y. B. Melnichenko, L. He, W. E. Guise, and S. K. Kumar, ACS Macro Lett., 2016, 5 (4), 523.
Chain behavior has been determined in polymer nanocomposites (PNCs) comprised of well-dispersed 12 nm diameter silica nanoparticles (NPs) in poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) matrices by Small-Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) measurements under the Zero Average Contrast (ZAC) condition. In particular, we directly characterize the bound polymer layer surrounding the NPs, revealing the bound layer profile. The SANS spectra in the high-q region also show no significant change in the bulk polymer radius of gyration on the addition of the NPs. We thus suggest that the bulk polymer conformation in PNCs should generally be determined using the high q region of SANS data.