Free-Standing and Self-Crosslinkable Hybrid Films by Core-Shell Particle Design and Processing

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2017 Nov 15;7(11):390. doi: 10.3390/nano7110390.


The utilization and preparation of functional hybrid films for optical sensing applications and membranes is of utmost importance. In this work, we report the convenient and scalable preparation of self-crosslinking particle-based films derived by directed self-assembly of alkoxysilane-based cross-linkers as part of a core-shell particle architecture. The synthesis of well-designed monodisperse core-shell particles by emulsion polymerization is the basic prerequisite for subsequent particle processing via the melt-shear organization technique. In more detail, the core particles consist of polystyrene (PS) or poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), while the comparably soft particle shell consists of poly(ethyl acrylate) (PEA) and different alkoxysilane-based poly(methacrylate)s. For hybrid film formation and convenient self-cross-linking, different alkyl groups at the siloxane moieties were investigated in detail by solid-state Magic-Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MAS, NMR) spectroscopy revealing different crosslinking capabilities, which strongly influence the properties of the core or shell particle films with respect to transparency and iridescent reflection colors. Furthermore, solid-state NMR spectroscopy and investigation of the thermal properties by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements allow for insights into the cross-linking capabilities prior to and after synthesis, as well as after the thermally and pressure-induced processing steps. Subsequently, free-standing and self-crosslinked particle-based films featuring excellent particle order are obtained by application of the melt-shear organization technique, as shown by microscopy (TEM, SEM).

Keywords: colloidal crystals; colloids; cross-linking; emulsion polymerization; hybrid films; particle processing; self-assembly.