Revealing the interface in polymer nanocomposites

Mauro Zammarano*, Paul H. Maupin, Li Piin Sung, Jeffrey W. Gilman, Edward D. McCarthy, Yeon S. Kim, Douglas M. Fox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The morphological characterization of polymer nanocomposites over multiple length scales is a fundamental challenge. Here, we report a technique for high-throughput monitoring of interface and dispersion in polymer nanocomposites based on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC), fluorescently labeled with 5-(4,6-dichlorotriazinyl)- aminofluorescein (FL) and dispersed into polyethylene (PE) doped with Coumarin 30 (C30), is used as a model system to assess the ability of FRET to evaluate the effect of processing on NFC dispersion in PE. The level of energy transfer and its standard deviation, measured by fluorescence spectroscopy and laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM), are exploited to monitor the extent of interface formation and composite homogeneity, respectively. FRET algorithms are used to generate color-coded images for a real-space observation of energy transfer efficiency. These images reveal interface formation at a nanoscale while probing a macroscale area that is large enough to be representative of the entire sample. The unique ability of this technique to simultaneously provide orientation/spatial information at a macroscale and nanoscale features, encoded in the FRET signal, provides a new powerful tool for structure-property- processing investigation in polymer nanocomposites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3391-3399
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • confocal microscopy
  • fluorescence
  • FRET
  • interface
  • nanocomposite


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