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Quantification of Dispersion for Weakly and Strongly Correlated Nanofillers in Polymer Nanocomposites

McGlasson, Alex, Rishi, Kabir, Beaucage, Gregory, Chauby, Michael, Kuppa, Vikram, Ilavsky, Jan, Rackaitis, Mindaugas
Macromolecules 2020 v.53 no.6 pp. 2235-2248
colloids, models, nanoparticles, polymer nanocomposites, polymers, soot
The dispersion of nanoparticles in viscous polymers is dictated by kinetics, interaction potentials between particles, and interfacial compatibility between the matrix and dispersed phases. It was previously proposed that an analogy can be made between thermally dispersed colloids and kinetically dispersed nanoparticles in viscous media when weak interactions exist between particles allowing for a mean-field description under the Ginzburg criterion such as for carbon black dispersed in polybutadiene elastomer. For these cases, the second virial coefficient can be used to quantify the quality of dispersion; additionally, the nanoscale network mesh size can be calculated, which is related to dynamic properties. However, this approach fails for nanoparticles with surface charges or other specific interactions that lead to correlations. Here, these correlated systems are investigated in the context of the mean-field systems in order to gain a comparative description of dispersion using the network mesh size and a derived virial coefficient. The physical origin of the structural parameters from the proposed model for these correlated systems is investigated.