2020 Volume 38 Issue 4

2020, 38(4): -
[Abstract](776) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Melt Crystallization of Poly(butylene 2,6-naphthalate)
Qian Ding , Michelina Soccio , Nadia Lotti , Dario Cavallo , René Androsch
2020, 38(4): 311-322  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2354-5
[Abstract](965) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Poly(butylene 2,6-naphthalate) (PBN) is a crystallizable linear polyester containing a rigid naphthalene unit and flexible methylene spacer in the chemical repeat unit. Polymeric materials made of PBN exhibit excellent anti-abrasion and low friction properties, superior chemical resistance, and outstanding gas barrier characteristics. Many of the properties rely on the presence of crystals and the formation of a semicrystalline morphology. To develop specific crystal structures and morphologies during cooling the melt, precise information about the melt-crystallization process is required. This review article summarizes the current knowledge about the temperature-controlled crystal polymorphism of PBN. At rather low supercooling of the melt, with decreasing crystallization temperature, β′- and α-crystals grow directly from the melt and organize in largely different spherulitic superstructures. Formation of α-crystals at high supercooling may also proceed via intermediate formation of a transient monotropic liquid crystalline structure, then yielding a non-spherulitic semicrystalline morphology. Crystallization of PBN is rather fast since its suppression requires cooling the melt at a rate higher than 6000 K·s−1. For this reason, investigation of the two-step crystallization process at low temperatures requires application of sophisticated experimental tools. These include temperature-resolved X-ray scattering techniques using fast detectors and synchrotron-based X-rays and fast scanning chip calorimetry. Fast scanning chip calorimetry allows freezing the transient liquid-crystalline structure before its conversion into α-crystals, by fast cooling to below its glass transition temperature. Subsequent analysis using polarized-light optical microscopy reveals its texture and X-ray scattering confirms the smectic arrangement of the mesogens. The combination of a large variety of experimental techniques allows obtaining a complete picture about crystallization of PBN in the entire range of melt-supercoolings down to the glass transition, including quantitative data about the crystallization kinetics, semicrystalline morphologies at the micrometer length scale, as well as nanoscale X-ray structure information.
Achieving Efficient Thick Film All-polymer Solar Cells Using a Green Solvent Additive
Zhen-Ye Li , Wen-Kai Zhong , Lei Ying , Ning Li , Feng Liu , Fei Huang , Yong Cao
2020, 38(4): 323-331  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2356-3
[Abstract](835) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Advances in organic photovoltaic technologies have been geared toward industrial high-throughput printing manufacturing, which requires insensitivity of photovoltaic performance regarding to the light-harvesting layer thickness. However, the thickness of light-harvesting layer for all polymer solar cells (all-PSCs) is often limited to about 100 nm due to the dramatically decreased fill factor upon increasing film thickness, which hampers the light harvesting capability to increase the power conversion efficiency, and is unfavorable for fabricating large-area devices. Here we demonstrate that by tuning the bulk heterojunction morphology using a non-halogenated solvent, cyclopentyl methyl ether, in the presence of a green solvent additive of dibenzyl ether, the power conversion efficiency of all-PSCs with photoactive layer thicknesses of over 500 nm reached an impressively high value of 9%. The generic applicability of this green solvent additive to boost the power conversion efficiency of thick-film devices is also validated in various bulk heterojunction active layer systems, thus representing a promising approach for the fabrication of all-PSCs toward industrial production, as well as further commercialization.
Hierarchically Crosslinked Gels Containing Hydrophobic Ionic Liquids towards Reliable Sensing Applications
Xia-Chao Chen , Pei-Ru Sun , Hong-Liang Liu
2020, 38(4): 332-341  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2357-2
[Abstract](820) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Human skin can function steadily regardless of surrounding circumstances (dry or wet), while it is still a challenge for artificial ionic skins, which tend to release solvents in dry air and leach electrolytes in wetted state. Herein, a series of hierarchically crosslinked ionogels containing hydrophobic ionic liquids (ILs) is fabricated by combining a crystalline fluorinated copolymer with hydrophobic ILs. With a reasonable combination of nonvolatility, transparency, stretchablility, and sensitivity, such ionogels can work as reliable sensors for real-time monitoring human motions and operate steadily in complex environments as human skin does, which can contribute to the development of durable sensing devices with a simple design.
Unsymmetric Side Chains of Indacenodithiophene Copolymers Lead to Improved Packing and Device Performance
Ying Yang , Tong Shan , Jian Cao , Hua-Chun Wang , Ji-Kang Wang , Hong-Liang Zhong , Yun-Xiang Xu
2020, 38(4): 342-348  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2342-9
[Abstract](889) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Two conjugated polymers (PuIDTBD and PuIDTQ) with unsymmetric side chains have been prepared for polymer solar cells using two other polymers (PIDTBD and PIDTQ) with symmetric side chains as control compounds. The combination of methyl and 4-hexylphenyl side chains on the same bridged carbon can ensure good solubility, decrease π-π stacking distances, and bring proper miscibility with PC71BM simultaneously. Therefore, the corresponding polymer solar cells (PSCs) based on donor polymers with unsymmetric side chains exhibited enhanced short-circuit current density (JSC) and power conversion efficiency (PCE) compared with those of control polymers. The PIDTBD and PIDTQ based devices possessed low PCE of 2.13% and 1.48%, while PCEs of devices based on PuIDTBD and PuIDTQ were improved to 3.93% and 4.12%, respectively. The results demonstrate that unsymmetric side chain engineering of conjugated polymers is an effective approach to achieve high performance PSCs.
Ultrasound-responsive Homopolymer Nanoparticles
Bo Yang , Jian-Zhong Du
2020, 38(4): 349-356  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2345-6
[Abstract](812) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Noninvasive ultrasound is a more effective strategy for on-demand drug delivery of polymeric nanoparticles than many other stimuli. However, the preparation of ultrasound-responsive homopolymer nanoparticles is still very challenging. In this study, we disclose the regulating factors of ultrasound responsiveness of homopolymer nanoparticles and the disaggregation behavior of homopolymer nanoparticle aggregates. Homopolymer nanoparticles such as vesicles and large compound micelles (LCMs) are self-assembled from poly(methoxyethyl methacrylate) (PMEMA) and poly(amic acid) (PAA), respectively. The ultrasound responsiveness of PAA vesicles at metastable state could be regulated by tuning the self-assembly temperature (Ts), and was optimized when Ts is around the glass transition temperature (Tg) of PAA. However, the PMEMA LCMs did not respond to ultrasound as they are at stable state. On the other hand, poly(2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethyl acrylate) (PEEA) could self-assemble into vesicle aggregates or complex micelle aggregates, which were dissociated upon sonication. Overall, the above findings provide us with a fresh insight for designing ultrasound-responsive polymeric nanoparticles.
Anionic Polymerization of Butadiene Using Lithium/Potassium Multi-metallic Systems: Influence on Polymerization Control and Polybutadiene Microstructure
Antoine Forens , Kevin Roos , Charlotte Dire , Benoit Gadenne , Stéphane Carlotti
2020, 38(4): 357-362  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2355-4
[Abstract](820) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Thermal, mechanical, and viscoelastic properties of polybutadiene-based rubber materials are highly dependent on polybutadiene microstructure. The use of polar modifier in association with alkyllithium is a well-known method to obtain polybutadiene with a high vinyl content. Another approach is to use bimetallic initiating species such as alkyllithium combined to heavier alkali metal alkoxide (RONa, ROK…). The polymerization control is nevertheless not achieved and several parameters were found to influence it. Using bimetallic initiating systems based on alkyllithium and a potassium alkoxide, alkyllithium structure, initiator preformation time, and initiator composition were identified as parameters influencing the anionic polymerization process of butadiene and/or polybutadiene microstructure. In addition, the use of trimetallic systems based on alkyllithium, potassium alkoxide, and alkylaluminum was investigated in order to prevent side reactions regardless of the [K]/[Li] ratio and of the initiator preformation time.
Role of Hydrodynamic Interactions in the Deformation of Star Polymers in Poiseuille Flow
Zhen-Yue Yang , Xiao-Fei Tian , Li-Jun Liu , Ji-Zhong Chen
2020, 38(4): 363-370  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2346-5
[Abstract](903) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
Stretching polymer in fluid flow is a vital process for studying and utilizing the physical properties of these molecules, such as DNA linearization in nanofluidic channels. We studied the role of hydrodynamic interactions (HIs) in stretching a free star polymer in Poiseuille flow through a tube using mesoscale hydrodynamic simulations. As increasing the flow strength, star polymers migrate toward the centerline of tube due to HIs, whereas toward the tube wall in the absence of HIs. By analyzing the end monomer distribution and the perturbed flow around the star polymer, we found that the polymer acts like a shield against the flow, leading to additional hydrodynamic drag forces that compress the arm chains in the front of the star center toward the tube axis and lift the arm chains at the back toward the tube wall. The balanced hydrodynamic forces freeze the polymer into a trumpet structure, where the arm chains maintain a steady strongly stretched state at high flow strength. In contrast, the polymer displays remarkably large conformational change when switching off HIs. Our simulation results explained the coupling between HIs and the structure of star polymers in Poiseuille flow.
Conformational Properties of Comb-shaped Polyelectrolytes with Negatively Charged Backbone and Neutral Side Chains Studied by a Generic Coarse-grained Bead-and-Spring Model
Jian-Hua Chen , Li-Qun Lu , Hong-Xia Zhao , Yong Yang , Xin Shu , Qian-Ping Ran
2020, 38(4): 371-381  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2350-9
[Abstract](812) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
A generic coarse-grained bead-and-spring model, mapped onto comb-shaped polycarboxylate-based (PCE) superplasticizers, is developed and studied by Langevin molecular dynamics simulations with implicit solvent and explicit counterions. The agreement on the radius of gyration of the PCEs with experiments shows that our model can be useful in studying the equilibrium sizes of PCEs in solution. The effects of ionic strength, side-chain number, and side-chain length on the conformational behavior of PCEs in solution are explored. Single-chain equilibrium properties, including the radius of gyration, end-to-end distance and persistence length of the polymer backbone, shape-asphericity parameter, and the mean span dimension, are determined. It is found that with the increase of ionic strength, the equilibrium sizes of the polymers decrease only slightly, and a linear dependence of the persistence length of backbone on the Debye screening length is found, in good agreement with the theory developed by Dobrynin. Increasing side-chain numbers and/or side-chain lengths increases not only the equilibrium sizes (radius of gyration and mean span) of the polymer as a whole, but also the persistence length of the backbone due to excluded volume interactions.
General Model of Temperature-dependent Modulus and Yield Strength of Thermoplastic Polymers
Ping-Yuan Huang , Zhan-Sheng Guo , Jie-Min Feng
2020, 38(4): 382-393  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2360-7
[Abstract](863) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
A general model was developed to predict the temperature-dependent modulus and yield strength of different thermoplastic polymers. This model, which depends on only two parameters with clear and specific physical meanings, can describe the temperature-dependent modulus and yield strength of thermoplastic polymers over the full glass transition region. The temperature-dependent modulus and yield strength of three thermoplastic polymers were measured by uniaxial tension tests over a temperature range of 243−383 K. The predictions showed excellent agreement with the experimental data. Sensitivity analysis of model input parameters showed negligible effect on the present general model. The universality of the present general model was further validated, showing excellent agreement with published experimental data on other thermoplastic polymers and their composites.
Surface Patterns of a Tetrahedral Polyelectrolyte Brush Induced by Grafting Density and Charge Fraction
Hong-Ge Tan , Gang Xia , Li-Xiang Liu , Xiao-Hui Niu , Qing-Hai Hao
2020, 38(4): 394-402  doi: 10.1007/s10118-020-2351-8
[Abstract](1725) [FullText HTML] [PDF 0KB](0)
A tetrahedral polyelectrolyte brush in the presence of trivalent counterions is researched under the condition of good solution by means of molecular dynamics simulations. Grafting density and charge fraction are varied to generate a series of surface patterns. Lateral microphase separation happens and various interesting pinned patches appear at appropriate charge fraction and grafting density. Through a careful analysis on the brush thickness, the pair correlation functions, the distributions of net charge, and the four states of trivalent counterions in the brush, we find that the ordered surface patterns and special properties are induced by the pure electrostatic correlation effect of trivalent ions even in the good solvent. Furthermore, the dependences of electrostatic correlation on the charge fraction of tethered chains are evaluated for fixed grafting density. Also, our results can serve as a guide for precise control over the stimuli-responsive materials rational and self-assembly of nanoparticles.
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