Preparation of composite materials from the heteroaggregation of nanoparticles

This project aims to design composite materials by controlling the interactions and heteroaggregation of different types of nanoparticles in aqueous suspensions.

The preparation of polymer-based composite materials is often a challenging task. In order to reach optimal performance, it is imperative that there is optimal integration between the matrix and the filler. Additionally, the dispersion of the filler inside the matrix has to be precisely controlled. Unwanted agglomeration of filler nanoparticles or nanotubes might have a detrimental effect on the final properties of the composite material. For this reason, a considerable effort is put into developing new strategies for the preparation of composite materials. The aim of this project is to use an unconventional route to achieve this goal. The idea is to prepare both the matrix and the filler in the form of aqueous dispersions of charged nanoparticles, and then to control their interactions by tuning the pH and ionic strength of the suspension. By choosing nanoparticles with opposite charges, it is possible to obtain preferential assembly of matrix particles with filler particles, in order to achieve optimal incorporation in the matrix. The project also aims to investigate the preparation of composite materials made of different polymers by taking advantage of our capability of preparing polymer nanoparticles with very different sizes, down to the threshold of a few nanometers. This also offers the opportunity to investigate the effect of nanoparticle size on the final properties of materials. 

Involved people

Adolphe Merkle Institute - Chemin des Verdiers 4 - CH-1700 Fribourg - Phone +41 26 300 9254