Macromolecules, Vol.37, No.23, 8606-8611, 2004
Polymer nanocomposites through controlled self-assembly of cubic silsesquioxane scaffolds
A novel bottom-up approach to obtain polymer nanocomposites using cubic silsesquioxanes (POSS) nanoparticles as building blocks is reported. The design is based on associative interaction between particles to form ordered nanostructure and limited crystal growth to render anisotropic shapes. Specifically, the affinity between POSS units causes these particles to aggregate and closely pack into a crystalline lattice. The organic polymer, covalently connected to each POSS unit, limits the crystallization into a two-dimensional lattice as demonstrated in random copolymers of polybutadiene and cubic silsesquioxanes. The copolymers were synthesized by ring-opening metathesis copolymerization of cyclooctadiene and POSS bearing a polymerizable norbornene group. The polymers were characterized using NMR, DSC, TEM, WAXD, and SAXS. The data from TEM and X-ray diffraction clearly show the formation of two-dimensional lamellar-like nanostructures of assembled cubic silsesquioxanes.