It is well recognized that nanocomposites formed by adding nanoparticles to polymers can have significantly enhanced properties relative to the native polymer. This review focuses on three aspects that are central to the outstanding problem of realizing these promised property improvements. First, we ask if there exist general strategies to control nanoparticle spatial distribution. This is an important question because it is commonly accepted that the nanoparticle dispersion state crucially affects property improvements. Because ideas on macroscale composites suggest that optimizing different properties requires different dispersion states, we next ask if we can predict a priori the particle dispersion and organization state that can optimize one (or more) properties of the resulting nanocomposite. Finally, we examine the role that particle shape plays in affecting dispersion and hence property control. This review focuses on recent advances concerning these underpinning points and how they affect measurable properties relevant to engineering applications.
Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering – Annual Reviews
Published: Jul 15, 2010