Structural Insight in the Interfacial Effect in Ferroelectric Polymer Nanocomposites

Yang Liu, Tiannan Yang, Bing Zhang, Teague Williams, Yen Ting Lin, Li Li, Yao Zhou, Wenchang Lu, Seong H. Kim, Long Qing Chen, J. Bernholc, Qing Wang

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75 Scopus citations


Both experimental results and theoretical models suggest the decisive role of the filler–matrix interfaces on the dielectric, piezoelectric, pyroelectric, and electrocaloric properties of ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites. However, there remains a lack of direct structural evidence to support the so-called interfacial effect in dielectric nanocomposites. Here, a chemical mapping of the interfacial coupling between the nanofiller and the polymer matrix in ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites by combining atomic force microscopy–infrared spectroscopy (AFM–IR) with first-principles calculations and phase-field simulations is provided. The addition of ceramic fillers into a ferroelectric polymer leads to augmentation of the local conformational disorder in the vicinity of the interface, resulting in the local stabilization of the all-trans conformation (i.e., the polar β phase). The formation of highly polar and inhomogeneous interfacial regions, which is further enhanced with a decrease of the filler size, has been identified experimentally and verified by phase-field simulations and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. This work offers unprecedented structural insights into the configurational disorder-induced interfacial effect and will enable rational design and molecular engineering of the filler–matrix interfaces of electroactive polymer nanocomposites to boost their collective properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2005431
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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