Polymer Structure and Property II

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2020) | Viewed by 33703

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Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Bologna, Via Terracini 28, 40131 Bologna, Italy
Interests: polymer synthesis; polymer modification; copolymerization; polymer characterization; solid state properties in polymers; polymer thermal properties; polymer crystallization kinetics; mechanical characterization; bio-based monomers; biopolymers; biomaterials; polymer nanostructuring; nanocomposites; gas barrier properties; polymer compostability; biopolymers for tissue engineering; polymeric devices for controlled drug delivery; biodegradation
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Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Interests: polymer design; polymer synthesis and characterization; polymer modification; copolymerization; solid state properties; thermal properties and crystallization kinetics; mechanical characterization; bio-based monomers; bio-based polymers; nano-polymer; nanocomposites; gas barrier behaviour; polymer compostability; biopolymers for engineering tissue; polymeric for controlled drug delivery; biodegradation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

To build on the success of the Special Issue in Polymers, "Polymer Structure and Property",

https://www.mdpi.com/journal/polymers/special_issues/Struct_Prop,

and to provide a continuity of this popular topic, we are pleased to open the second volume of this Special Issue. The aim of this Special Issue is to collect research and review papers in order to understand the state of the art as well as to obtain insight into the possible correlations between the structure and the property of polymers. All relevant contributions to this Special Issue are welcome.

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Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 7685 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Structure and Local Dynamics of Two Peptide Dendrimers with the Same Backbone but with Different Side Groups in Their Spacers
by Sofia E. Mikhtaniuk, Valeriy V. Bezrodnyi, Oleg V. Shavykin, Igor M. Neelov, Nadezhda N. Sheveleva, Anastasia V. Penkova and Denis A. Markelov
Polymers 2020, 12(8), 1657; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12081657 - 25 Jul 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2607
Abstract
In this paper, we perform computer simulation of two lysine-based dendrimers with Lys-2Lys and Lys-2Gly repeating units. These dendrimers were recently studied experimentally by NMR (Sci. Reports, 2018, 8, 8916) and tested as carriers for gene delivery (Bioorg. Chem., 2020, 95, 103504). Simulation [...] Read more.
In this paper, we perform computer simulation of two lysine-based dendrimers with Lys-2Lys and Lys-2Gly repeating units. These dendrimers were recently studied experimentally by NMR (Sci. Reports, 2018, 8, 8916) and tested as carriers for gene delivery (Bioorg. Chem., 2020, 95, 103504). Simulation was performed by molecular dynamics method in a wide range of temperatures. We have shown that the Lys-2Lys dendrimer has a larger size but smaller fluctuations as well as lower internal density in comparison with the Lys-2Gly dendrimer. The Lys-2Lys dendrimer has larger charge but counterions form more ion pairs with its NH 3 + groups and reduce the bare charge and zeta potential of the first dendrimer more strongly. It was demonstrated that these differences between dendrimers are due to the lower flexibility and the larger charge (+2) of each 2Lys spacers in comparison with 2Gly ones. The terminal CH2 groups in both dendrimers move faster than the inner CH2 groups. The calculated temperature dependencies of the spin-lattice relaxation times of these groups for both dendrimers are in a good agreement with the experimental results obtained by NMR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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16 pages, 2608 KiB  
Article
Characterizing the Core-Shell Architecture of Block Copolymer Nanoparticles with Electron Microscopy: A Multi-Technique Approach
by Vitalii Tkachenko, Loïc Vidal, Ludovic Josien, Marc Schmutz, Julien Poly and Abraham Chemtob
Polymers 2020, 12(8), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12081656 - 25 Jul 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5834
Abstract
Electron microscopy has proved to be a major tool to study the structure of self-assembled amphiphilic block copolymer particles. These specimens, like supramolecular biological structures, are problematic for electron microscopy because of their poor capacity to scatter electrons and their susceptibility to radiation [...] Read more.
Electron microscopy has proved to be a major tool to study the structure of self-assembled amphiphilic block copolymer particles. These specimens, like supramolecular biological structures, are problematic for electron microscopy because of their poor capacity to scatter electrons and their susceptibility to radiation damage and dehydration. Sub-50 nm core-shell spherical particles made up of poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate)–b–poly(styrene) are prepared via polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA). For their morphological characterization, we discuss the advantages, limitations, and artefacts of TEM with or without staining, cryo-TEM, and SEM. A number of technical points are addressed such as precisely shaping of particle boundaries, resolving the particle shell, differentiating particle core and shell, and the effect of sample drying and staining. TEM without staining and cryo-TEM largely evaluate the core diameter. Negative staining TEM is more efficient than positive staining TEM to preserve native structure and to visualize the entire particle volume. However, no technique allows for a satisfactory imaging of both core and shell regions. The presence of long protruding chains is manifested by patched structure in cryo-TEM and a significant edge effect in SEM. This manuscript provides a basis for polymer chemists to develop their own specimen preparations and to tackle the interpretation of challenging systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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21 pages, 12617 KiB  
Article
Effect of SILPs on the Vulcanization and Properties of Ethylene–Propylene–Diene Elastomer
by Anna Sowińska, Magdalena Maciejewska, Laina Guo and Etienne Delebecq
Polymers 2020, 12(6), 1220; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12061220 - 27 May 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3280
Abstract
Ionic liquids (ILs) are increasingly used in elastomer technology due to unique physico-chemical properties, which are stable at the temperature of preparation and during processing of rubber compounds. The latest IL application concept is supported ionic liquid-phase (SILP) materials, where an IL film [...] Read more.
Ionic liquids (ILs) are increasingly used in elastomer technology due to unique physico-chemical properties, which are stable at the temperature of preparation and during processing of rubber compounds. The latest IL application concept is supported ionic liquid-phase (SILP) materials, where an IL film is immobilized on the solid phase. The main aim of this work was studying the influence of IL immobilized on the surface of solid supports, such as silica and carbon black, on the vulcanization process, mechanical properties, and thermal behavior of ethylene–propylene–diene (EPDM) elastomer. Application of the SILP materials enabled the control of EPDM vulcanization without deterioration of the crosslink density, damping properties, thermal stability, and resistance of the vulcanizates to thermo-oxidative aging. Slight improvements in the tensile strength and hardness of the vulcanizates were observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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15 pages, 3338 KiB  
Article
The Role of a Succinyl Fluorescein-Succinic Anhydride Grafted Atactic Polypropylene on the Dynamic Mechanical Properties of Polypropylene/Polyamide-6 Blends at the Polypropylene Glass Transition
by Jesús-María García-Martínez and Emilia P. Collar
Polymers 2020, 12(6), 1216; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12061216 - 27 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2095
Abstract
The present article adequately supports a twofold objective. On one hand, the study of the dynamic mechanical behavior of polypropylene/polyamide-6 blends modified by a novel compatibilizer was the objective. This was previously obtained by chemical modification of an atactic polypropylene polymerization waste. On [...] Read more.
The present article adequately supports a twofold objective. On one hand, the study of the dynamic mechanical behavior of polypropylene/polyamide-6 blends modified by a novel compatibilizer was the objective. This was previously obtained by chemical modification of an atactic polypropylene polymerization waste. On the other hand, the accurate predictions of these properties in the experimental space scanned was the objective. As a novelty, this compatibilizer contains grafts rather than just maleated ones. Therefore, it consists precisely of an atactic polymer containing succinic anhydride (SA) bridges and both backbone and terminal grafted succinyl-fluorescein groups (SFSA) attached to the atactic backbone (aPP-SFSA). Therefore, it contains 6.2% of total grafting (2.5% as SA and 3.7% as SF), which is equivalent to 6.2 × 10−4 g·mol−1. This interfacial agent was uniquely designed and obtained by the authors themselves. Essentially, this article focuses on how the beneficial effect of both PA6 and aPP-SFSA varies the elastic (E’) and the viscous (E’’) behavior of the iPP/aPP-SFSA/PA6 blend at the iPP glass transition. Thus, we accurately measured the Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) parameters (E’, E’’) at this specific point considering it represents an extremely unfavorable scenario for the interfacial modifier due to mobility restrictions. Hence, this evidences the real interfacial modifications caused by aPP-SFSA to the iPP/PA6 system. Even more, and since each of the necessary components in the blend typically interacts with one another, we employed a Box–Wilson experimental design by its marked resemblance to the “agent-based models”. In this manner, we obtained complex algorithms accurately forecasting the dynamic mechanical behavior of the blends for all the composition range of the iPP/aPP-SFSA/PA6 system at the glass transition of iPP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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23 pages, 3954 KiB  
Article
Intelligent Poly(N-Isopropylmethacrylamide) Hydrogels: Synthesis, Structure Characterization, Stimuli-Responsive Swelling Properties, and Their Radiation Decomposition
by Snežana Ilić-Stojanović, Maja Urošević, Ljubiša Nikolić, Djordje Petrović, Jelena Stanojević, Stevo Najman and Vesna Nikolić
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1112; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12051112 - 13 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3304
Abstract
Poly(N-isopropylmethacrylamide) (p(NiPMAm)) is one of the lesser known homopolymers that has significant potential for designing new “intelligent” materials. The aims of this work were the synthesis a series of cross-linked p(NiPMAm) hydrogels by the free radical polymerization [...] Read more.
Poly(N-isopropylmethacrylamide) (p(NiPMAm)) is one of the lesser known homopolymers that has significant potential for designing new “intelligent” materials. The aims of this work were the synthesis a series of cross-linked p(NiPMAm) hydrogels by the free radical polymerization method and the application of gamma-ray radiation for additional cross-linking. The synthesized p(NiPMAm) hydrogels were structurally characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The amount of unreacted monomers was analyzed using high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) to evaluate conversion of monomers into polymers. The swelling behavior was monitored in dependence of pH and temperature changes. The previous aim of gamma-ray radiation was the further the cross-linkage of the obtained hydrogel sample in the gelatinous, paste-like state, but the gamma-ray radiation caused decomposition. After absorbing irradiation doses, they transformed into the liquid phase. The results obtained by the gel permeation chromatography (GPC) method indicated that only oligomers and monomers were present in the irradiated liquid material, without molecules with a higher average molar mass, i.e., that the decomposition of the hydrogels occurred. Additionally, the irradiated liquid material was analyzed using the static headspace gas chromatography mass spectrometry (HSS-GC/MS) and gas chromatography/flame ionization detection (HSS-GC/FID) methods. The presence of unchanged initiator molecule and a dominant amount of four new molecules that were different from homopolymers and the reactant (monomer and cross-linker) were determined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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12 pages, 1542 KiB  
Article
Stability of Crystal Nuclei of Poly (butylene isophthalate) Formed Near the Glass Transition Temperature
by Silvia Quattrosoldi, Nadia Lotti, Michelina Soccio, Christoph Schick and René Androsch
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1099; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12051099 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 2672
Abstract
Tammann’s two-stage crystal-nuclei-development method is applied for analysis of the thermal stability of homogenously formed crystal nuclei of poly(butylene isophthalate) (PBI) as well as their possible reorganization on transferring them to the growth temperature, using fast scanning chip calorimetry. Crystal nuclei were formed [...] Read more.
Tammann’s two-stage crystal-nuclei-development method is applied for analysis of the thermal stability of homogenously formed crystal nuclei of poly(butylene isophthalate) (PBI) as well as their possible reorganization on transferring them to the growth temperature, using fast scanning chip calorimetry. Crystal nuclei were formed at 50 °C, that is, at a temperature only slightly higher than the glass transition temperature, and developed to crystals within a pre-defined time at the growth temperature of 85 °C. The number of nuclei, overcritical at the growth temperature, was detected as a function of the transfer-conditions (maximum temperature, heating rate) by evaluation of the developed crystal fraction. For different size-distributions of crystal nuclei, as controlled by the nucleation time, there is detected distinct reduction of the nuclei number on heating to maximum temperatures higher than about 90 to 110 °C, with the latter value holding for longer nucleation time. Longer nucleation allows for both increasing the absolute nuclei number and generation of an increased fraction of larger nuclei. Heating at 1000 K/s to 140–150 °C causes “melting” of even the most stable nuclei. While direct transfer of crystal nuclei from the nucleation temperature (50 °C) to the growth temperature (85 °C) reveals negligible effect of the transfer-heating rate, in-between heating to higher temperatures is connected with distinct nuclei-reorganization above 85 °C on heating slower than 1000–10.000 K/s. The performed study not only provides specific valuable information about the thermal characteristics of crystal nuclei of PBI but also highlights the importance of proper design of Tammann’s nuclei development experiment for analysis of nuclei numbers. With the evaluation of critical rates of temperature-change for suppression of non-isothermal formation of both nuclei and crystals, the kinetics of crystallization of the slow crystallizing PBI is further quantified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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18 pages, 7495 KiB  
Article
Influence of Cross-Linking Degree on Hydrodynamic Behavior and Stimulus-Sensitivity of Derivatives of Branched Polyethyleneimine
by Alina Amirova, Tatyana Kirila, Mikhail Kurlykin, Andrey Tenkovtsev and Alexander Filippov
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12051085 - 9 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3194
Abstract
Cross-linked derivatives of acylated branched polyethyleneimine containing 2-isopropyl-2-oxazoline units were investigated in chloroform and aqueous solutions using methods of molecular hydrodynamics, static and dynamic light scattering, and turbidity. The studied samples differed by the cross-linker content. The solubility of the polyethyleneimines studied worsened [...] Read more.
Cross-linked derivatives of acylated branched polyethyleneimine containing 2-isopropyl-2-oxazoline units were investigated in chloroform and aqueous solutions using methods of molecular hydrodynamics, static and dynamic light scattering, and turbidity. The studied samples differed by the cross-linker content. The solubility of the polyethyleneimines studied worsened with the increasing mole fraction of the cross-linker. Cross-linked polyethyleneimines were characterized by small dimensions in comparison with linear analogs; the increase in the cross-linker content leads to a growth of intramolecular density. At low temperatures, the aqueous solutions of investigated samples were molecularly dispersed, and the large aggregates were formed due to the dehydration of oxazoline units and the formation of intermolecular hydrogen bonds. For the cross-linked polyethyleneimines, the phase separation temperatures were lower than that for linear and star-shaped poly-2-isopropyl-2-oxazolines. The low critical solution temperature of the solutions of studied polymers decreased with the increasing cross-linker mole fraction. The time of establishment of the constant characteristics of the studied solutions after the jump-like change in temperature reaches 3000 s, which is at least two times longer than for linear polymers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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16 pages, 3043 KiB  
Article
Effect of E-Beam Irradiation on Thermal and Mechanical Properties of Ester Elastomers Containing Multifunctional Alcohols
by Marta Piątek-Hnat, Kuba Bomba, Jakub Pęksiński, Agnieszka Kozłowska, Jacek G. Sośnicki and Tomasz J. Idzik
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12051043 - 2 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2934
Abstract
The aim of this work was to investigate the thermal and mechanical properties of novel, electron beam-modified ester elastomers containing multifunctional alcohols. Polymers tested in this work consist of two blocks: sebacic acid–butylene glycol block and sebacic acid–sugar alcohol block. Different sugar alcohols [...] Read more.
The aim of this work was to investigate the thermal and mechanical properties of novel, electron beam-modified ester elastomers containing multifunctional alcohols. Polymers tested in this work consist of two blocks: sebacic acid–butylene glycol block and sebacic acid–sugar alcohol block. Different sugar alcohols were utilized in the polymer synthesis: glycerol, sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, and mannitol. The polymers have undergone an irradiation procedure. The materials were irradiated with doses of 50 kGy, 100 kGy, and 150 kGy. The expected effect of using ionizing radiation was crosslinking process and improvement of the mechanical properties. Additionally, a beneficial side effect of the irradiation process is sterilization of the affected materials. It is also worth noting that the materials described in this paper do not require either sensitizers or cross-linking agent in order to perform radiation modification. Radiation-modified poly(polyol sebacate-co-butylene sebacate) elastomers have been characterized in respect to the mechanical properties (quasi-static tensile tests), cross-link density, thermal properties (Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)), chemical properties: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and wettability (water contact angle). Poly(polyol sebacate-co-butylene sebacate) preopolymers were characterized with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR and 13C NMR) and gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Thermal stability of cross-linked materials (directly after synthesis process) was tested with thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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9 pages, 1708 KiB  
Article
Influence of Chromophoric Electron-Donating Groups on Photoinduced Solid-to-Liquid Transitions of Azopolymers
by Jian Xu, Bin Niu, Song Guo, Xiaolei Zhao, Xiaoli Li, Jinwen Peng, Weixing Deng, Si Wu and Yuanli Liu
Polymers 2020, 12(4), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12040901 - 13 Apr 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2586
Abstract
The photoinduced solid-to-liquid transitions property of azobenzene-containing polymers (azopolymers) enables azopolymers with various promising applications. However, a general lack of knowledge regarding the influence of structure of the azobenzene derivatives on the photoinduced liquefaction hinders the design of novel azopolymers. In the present [...] Read more.
The photoinduced solid-to-liquid transitions property of azobenzene-containing polymers (azopolymers) enables azopolymers with various promising applications. However, a general lack of knowledge regarding the influence of structure of the azobenzene derivatives on the photoinduced liquefaction hinders the design of novel azopolymers. In the present study, a series of azopolymers with side chains containing azobenzene unit bearing alkyl electron-donating groups were synthesized. The photoisomerization and photoinduced liquefaction properties of newly synthesized azopolymers were investigated. Alkyl-based electron-donating group significantly facilitate the photoisomerization process of azopolymers in solution, as the electron-donating ability of substituents increased, the time required for photoisomerization of azopolymers continually deceased. Meanwhile, the electron-donating group can drastically accelerate photoinduced solid-to-liquid transitions of azopolymers, the liquefaction rate of obtained azopolymers gradually getting quicker as the electron-donating ability of substituents increased. This study clearly demonstrates that the electron-donating group that bearing in the azobenzene group of polymer side chain play an essential role on the photoinduced solid-to-liquid transitions of azopolymers, and hence, gives an insight into how to design novel azopolymers for practical applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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13 pages, 4802 KiB  
Article
Influence of Polyol/Crosslinker Blend Composition on Phase Separation and Thermo-Mechanical Properties of Polyurethane Thin Films
by Said Arévalo-Alquichire, Maria Morales-Gonzalez, Kelly Navas-Gómez, Luis E. Diaz, José A. Gómez-Tejedor, María-Antonia Serrano and Manuel F. Valero
Polymers 2020, 12(3), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12030666 - 17 Mar 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 4440
Abstract
Polyurethanes (PUs) from Polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polycaprolactone diol (PCL) and a crosslinker, Pentaerythritol (PE), were synthetized with isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI). In this study, we investigated the effect of polyol and crosslinker composition on phase separation and thermo-mechanical properties. The properties were studied [...] Read more.
Polyurethanes (PUs) from Polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polycaprolactone diol (PCL) and a crosslinker, Pentaerythritol (PE), were synthetized with isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI). In this study, we investigated the effect of polyol and crosslinker composition on phase separation and thermo-mechanical properties. The properties were studied through dynamic mechanical analysis, X-ray scattering, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The results showed changes in PUs properties, microphase structure, and separation due to the composition of polyol/crosslinker blend. So, the largest concentration of PE produced multimodal loss factor patterns, indicating segment segregation while PUs with a PEG/PCL = 1 displayed a monomodal loss factor pattern, indicating a homogeneously distributed microphase separation. Additionally, the increase of the PEG concentration enhanced the damping capacity. On the other hand, agglomeration and thread-like structures of hard segments (HS) were observed through AFM. Finally, the thermal behavior of PUs was affected by chemical composition. Lower concentration of PE reduced the crosslinking; hence, the temperature with the maximum degradation rate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Structure and Property II)
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