Synthesis and characterization of electrospun organic-inorganic hybrid graft copolymer nanofibers of poly(methyl methacrylate) and polydimethylsiloxane

Swart, Morne (2007-12)

Thesis (MSc (Chemistry and Polymer Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Two series of poly(methyl methacrylate)-graft-poly(dimethylsiloxane) copolymers were synthesized via conventional free radical copolymerization of methylmethacrylate and monomethacryloxypropyl terminated PDMS macromonomers of different lengths. It is shown how these copolymers can be electrospun to produce the copolymer nanofibers. The affects of copolymer compositions, the electrospinning tip-to-collector (TCD) distance and the concentration of the polymer solution on the fiber morphology are discussed. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) were used to establish the surface topography as well as the fiber morphology of the electrospun copolymer nanofibers. It is also shown that these nanofibers produce superhydrophobic surfaces where the preferential surface segregation of the PDMS component is combined with the roughness of the nanofiber surface. It is shown that after exposure of these nanofiber surfaces to corona discharge, the initial superhydrophobic surfaces become easily wettable. The samples show the phenomena of hydrophobicity recovery after corona exposure. The rate and extent of this recovery depends on the PDMS content of the nanofibers as well as the time of corona treatment. The hybrid copolymer nanofibers were evaluated as potential reinforcing fillers for cross linked polydimethylsiloxane compounds. The fibers show a remarkably good distribution in the PDMS matrix and show a dramatic improvement in the mechanical properties of the composites.

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