Effects of nanoscale aggregation on mechanical properties and local dynamics of precise acid- and ion-containing polymers

Luri Robert Middleton, University of Pennsylvania


Acid- and ion-containing polymers have interchain interactions that alter polymer behavior at the nano, micro, and bulk length scales. Strong secondary-bonds act as thermo-reversible physical crosslinks between chains which drive self-assembly. Tuning theses interactions can modify bulk polymer properties including stiffness, toughness, melt viscosity, resilience, clarity, abrasion resistance and puncture resistance. Furthermore, understanding and improving the relevant factors that control transport properties would have vast implications on developing solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) for technologically important applications including water desalination, ion exchange membranes and microelectronics. This thesis explores the structure – processing – morphology - property relationships of acid and ionic functionalized polymers. Improvements in synthetic techniques and advancements in characterization methods have enabled new studies of associating polymer systems. Synthesis of entangled, high molecular weight, linear polyethylene (PE) chains functionalized with interacting pendant groups (acidic or ionic) placed periodically along the polymer backbone represent a new class of associating polymers. These polymers with periodic distributions of acid groups are much more homogenous than the commercially available polymers. Previous studies of these polymers with greater structural homogeneity revealed great variety in morphologies of the nano-aggregated polar groups within the non-polar polymer matrix. This thesis correlated the morphologies with bulk properties through real-time X-ray scattering and tensile deformation at a range of temperatures and sample compositions. New, transient morphologies and hierarchical morphologies were observed which coincided with unusual tensile strain hardening. These results indicate that improvements in synthetic control of polymers can enhance physical properties such as tensile strain-hardening, through cooperative bonding between chains. The structural regularity of precise polyethylenes also enables robust comparisons between experiments and computer simulations. At pico- to nano-seconds time scales and length scales of polymer and aggregate dynamics, neutron scattering and molecular dynamics simulations were combined to extend the knowledge of the molecular-level aggregated polymer dynamics. These experiments provide a baseline for future studies of ion-conduction in associating polymer melts.

Subject Area

Physical chemistry|Materials science|Plastics

Recommended Citation

Middleton, Luri Robert, "Effects of nanoscale aggregation on mechanical properties and local dynamics of precise acid- and ion-containing polymers" (2016). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10191569.