|How Tuning Interfaces Impacts the Dynamics and Structure of Polymer Nanocomposites Simultaneously |
(Article) Publié: Acs Appl. Mater. Interfaces, vol. 15 p.7496–7510 (2023)
Fundamental understanding of the macroscopic properties of polymer nanocomposites (PNCs) remains difficult due to the complex interplay of microscopic dynamics and structure, namely interfacial layer relaxations and three-dimensional nanoparticle (NP) arrangements. The effect of surface modification by alkyl methoxysilanes at different grafting densities has been studied in PNCs made of poly(2-vinylpyridine) and spherical 20 nm silica NPs. The segmental dynamics has been probed by broadband dielectric spectroscopy and the filler structure by small-angle X-ray scattering and reverse Monte Carlo simulations. By combining the particle configurations with the interfacial layer properties, it is shown how surface modification tunes the attractive polymer–particle interactions: bare NPs slow down the polymer interfacial layer dynamics over a thickness of ca. 5 nm, while grafting screens these interactions. Our analysis of interparticle spacings and segmental dynamics provides unprecedented insights into the effect of surface modification on the main characteristics of PNCs: particle interactions and polymer interfacial layers.