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Fabrication of transparent polymer nanocomposites containing pmma-grafted CeO2 particles
The composite materials prepared by transparent polymer and nanosized particles possess promising future in optical design and applications since their controllable optical properties. In this study, transparent/translucent composite films based on polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)-grafted CeO2 nanoparticles were prepared. CeO2 nanoparticles were precipitated from Ce(NO3)3·6H2O and urea in dimethyl formamide at 120°C. The surface of the nanoparticles was modified with a polymerizable surfactant, 3-methacyloxypropyltrimethoxy silane (MPS) in situ at 0°C. The size of the particles was fixed to 18 nm in diameter. The particles were dispersed into a mixture of MMA:toluene solution. The free radical solution polymerization was carried out in situ at 60°C using benzoyl peroxide (BPO) as initiator. A PMMA layer is formed around CeO2 nanoparticles. The thickness of the shell ranged from 9 to 84 nm was controlled by the amount of BPO using 6 and 0.5 wt %, respectively with respect to monomer. The layer thickness was found to be inversely proportional with the amount of initiator. The resulting PMMA-grafted CeO2 particles were blended with PS in tetrahydrofuran and the solution was spin-coat on a glass slide. CeO2 content in the composite films was fixed to 5.5 wt %. The transmission of the films was examined by UV-vis spectroscopy. The transmission of the PS composite prepared by neat CeO2 particles was 71 %. It was increased to 85 % when the composite prepared with PMMA-grafted CeO2 particles whose PMMA thickness is 9 nm. We believe that the achievement in transparency is most probably due to the reduction in refractive index mismatch between CeO2 particles and PS matrix using PMMA layer at interface.