Enhanced Glassy State Mechanical Properties of Polymer Nanocomposites via Supramolecular Interactions

It is now well accepted that the addition of nanoparticles (NPs) can strongly affect the thermomechanical properties of the polymers into which they are incorporated. In the solid (glassy) state, previous work has implied that optimal mechanical properties are achieved when the NPs are well dispersed in the matrix and when there is strong interfacial binding between the grafted NPs and the polymer matrix. Here we provide strong evidence supporting the importance of intermolecular interactions through the use of NPs grafted with polymers that can hydrogen bond with the matrix, yielding to significant improvements in the measured mechanical properties. Our finding thus supports the previously implied central role of strong interfacial binding in optimizing the mechanical properties of polymer nanocomposites.