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Synthesis and mechanical properties of para‐aramid nanofibers

Trexler, Morgana M., Hoffman, Christopher, Smith, Douglas A., Montalbano, Timothy J., Yeager, Matthew P., Trigg, Douglas, Nimer, Salahudin, Calderón‐Colón, Xiomara, Peitsch, Christopher, Xia, Zhiyong
Journal of polymer science 2019 v.57 no.10 pp. 563-573
anisotropy, chemical reactions, hydrogen bonding, molecular weight, nanofibers, polymers, relative humidity, scanning electron microscopes, scanning electron microscopy, solvents, spinning, synthesis, tensile strength
Scalable, bottom‐up chemical synthesis and electrospinning of novel Cl‐substituted poly(para‐phenylene terephthalamide) (PPTA) nanofibers are herein reported. To achieve Cl‐PPTA nanofibers, the chemical reaction between the monomers was precisely controlled, and dissolution of the polymer into solvent was tailored to enable anisotropic solution formation and sufficient entanglement molecular weight. Electrospinning processing parameters were studied to understand their effects on fiber formation and mat morphology and then optimized to yield consistently high quality fibers. Importantly, the control of relative humidity during the fiber formation process was found to be critical, likely because water promotes hydrogen bond formation between the PPTA chains. The fiber and mat morphologies resulting from different combinations of chemistry and spinning conditions were observed using scanning electron microscopy, and observations were used as inputs to the optimization process. Tensile properties of single Cl‐PPTA nanofibers were characterized for the first time using a nanomanipulator mounted inside a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and fiber moduli measuring up to 70 GPa, and strengths exceeding 1 GPa were achieved. Given the excellent mechanical properties measured for the nanofibers, this chemical synthesis procedure and electrospinning protocol appear to be a promising route for producing a new class of nanofibers with ultrahigh strength and stiffness. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2019, 57, 563–573