Polymer-Inorganic Hybrid Materials: Formation, Processing, Characterization And Applications
Polymers are soft macromolecules that can be structured and designed according to the need. The properties of these materials, however, are often limited due to purely organic nature of these macromolecules. Addition of an inorganic material into the polymer, however, results in a hybrid material with improved properties that are a combination of its constituents. In this dissertation, formation, processing, characterization and applications of two different polymer-inorganic hybrid systems are discussed, where order and dynamics of the hybrid material is driven by the polymer thermodynamics. The first system combines the block copolymer selfassembly with functional inorganic nanoparticles to generate nanostructured and nanoporous thin films. The order in the nanoporous thin films is determined by quantitative image analysis. Nanoporous films are used as templates to generate epitaxial and heteroepitaxial single crystalline nanostructures on silicon substrates. The single crystalline nanostructures are characterized through various microscopy and diffraction techniques to determine the lateral order, crystal structure and orientation of the resulting nanostructures on the substrate. The second system combines a thermoresponsive polymer with charged clay nanoparticles to form hybrid hydrogels with improved mechanical properties. Additional porosity is induced into the gels for faster swelling kinetics. The resulting super-porous hybrid gels are used in a device that induces directed motion by inducing the volume phase transition locally and propagating the volume phase transitions through the length of the gel.
dissertation or thesis