Network dynamics in nanofilled polymers

Guilhem P. Baeza, Claudia Dessi, Salvatore Costanzo, Dan Zhao, Shushan Gong, Angel Alegria, Ralph H. Colby, Michael Rubinstein, Dimitris Vlassopoulos, Sanat K. Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


It is well accepted that adding nanoparticles (NPs) to polymer melts can result in significant property improvements. Here we focus on the causes of mechanical reinforcement and present rheological measurements on favourably interacting mixtures of spherical silica NPs and poly(2-vinylpyridine), complemented by several dynamic and structural probes. While the system dynamics are polymer-like with increased friction for low silica loadings, they turn network-like when the mean face-to-face separation between NPs becomes smaller than the entanglement tube diameter. Gel-like dynamics with a Williams-Landel-Ferry temperature dependence then result. This dependence turns particle dominated, that is, Arrhenius-like, when the silica loading increases to ~ 31 vol%, namely, when the average nearest distance between NP faces becomes comparable to the polymer's Kuhn length. Our results demonstrate that the flow properties of nanocomposites are complex and can be tuned via changes in filler loading, that is, the character of polymer bridges which 'tie' NPs together into a network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11368
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Apr 25 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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