Researchers have developed and demonstrated an environment friendly and scalable method that permits them to fabricate gentle polymer supplies in a dozen completely different constructions, or “morphologies,” from ribbons and nanoscale sheets to rods and branched particles. The method permits customers to finely tune the morphology of the supplies on the micro- and nano-scale. The paper, “Fluid Flow Templating of Polymeric Soft Matter with Diverse Morphologies,” is printed open entry within the journal Advanced Materials.
“This advance is important because the technique can be used with a wide variety of polymers and biopolymers. Since the morphology of these polymeric micro- and nanostructures is critical for their applications, it allows us to obtain new polymer functionalities by simply controlling structure instead of polymer chemistry,” says Orlin Velev, corresponding creator of the paper and the S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University.
“For example, the nanosheets can be used in designing better batteries, whereas dendricolloids—branching networks of polymer fibers that have exceptionally high surface area—can be used in environmental remediation technologies or creation of novel lightweight metamaterials.”
Fundamentally, all the completely different morphologies are produced utilizing a widely known course of referred to as polymer precipitation. In this course of, a polymer is dissolved right into a solvent, producing a polymer answer. That polymer answer is then launched right into a second liquid, which makes the polymer come again collectively as soft matter.
What’s new right here is that the researchers have found easy methods to exactly management the construction of the ensuing polymer gentle matter by manipulating three units of parameters in the course of the manufacturing course of.
The first set of parameters is the shear price, which refers to how rapidly the liquids are stirred when the 2 liquids are combined collectively. The second set of parameters is the focus of the polymer within the polymer answer. The final set of parameters is the composition of the solvent that the polymer was initially dissolved in, in addition to the composition of the liquid that the polymer answer is added to.
“We identified the critical parameters that affect the final morphology of the polymeric materials, which in turn gives us a great deal of control and versatility,” says Rachel Bang, first creator of the paper and a current Ph.D. graduate from NC State. “Because we now understand the role of each of these factors and how they all influence each other, we can reproducibly fine-tune the polymeric particle morphology.”
“Even though we have demonstrated how to produce a dozen different morphologies, we are still in the early stages of exploring all of the possible outcomes and applications,” Velev says.
The researchers have already demonstrated that the dendricolloids can be utilized to make membranes for rising dwell cells, or to create hydrophobic or hydrophilic coatings. The researchers have additionally labored with collaborators to exhibit that the nanosheets have potential to be used as extra environment friendly separators in lithium-ion batteries.
“The technique can also be used with a variety of natural biopolymers, such as plant proteins, and it could be used to support a variety of applications, such as the development of plant-based meat analogs, which requires precise control of protein particle morphologies at multiple length scales,” provides co-author Prof. Simeon Stoyanov of the Singapore Institute of Technology and Wageningen University within the Netherlands. “In addition, because our technique is based on mixing liquids using conventional mixers, it can be easily scaled up for practical manufacturing.”
“We are currently working with food science researchers to determine how protein microrods could be used to control the texture of some food products,” Velev says. “And we’re additionally working with collaborators to discover how our method can be utilized to provide biopolymer-based supplies to be used in biodegradable gentle electronics.
“We are open to working with additional collaborators to explore potential applications for the polymers and biopolymers across all of these morphologies.”
NC State has issued or pending patents on the shear fabrication of microrods, nanofibers, dendricolloids and their utility in electrochemical power sources.
Rachel S. Bang et al, Fluid Flow Templating of Polymeric Soft Matter with Diverse Morphologies, Advanced Materials (2023). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202211438
North Carolina State University
Fluid mixing permits scalable manufacturing of sentimental polymer constructions (2023, March 10)
retrieved 10 March 2023
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