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Polymeric composites and nanocomposites for advanced applications

Keywords: layered silicates, layered double hydroxide, carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, graphene, biofibres
Fig. 1. Materials for composites and nanocomposites preparation (Figure by L. Sisti).
Fig. 2. a) PBS composites with lignocellulosic fibers; b) a thermoplastic with a nanodispersed layered silicate. (Images by L. Sisti and M. Colonna).

The skills developed by the research group in the field of polymeric composites and nanocomposites arise from the specific needs for highperformance materials, characterized by highly specific properties and by low environmental impact. The applications of these materials are wide in fact, depending on the type of nanofiller employed, they are characterized by high mechanical performance, heat resistance, reduced gas permeability and flammability and by specificic properties, such as conduction, optical, antibacterial and photo-catalytic properties. In all cases, in order to obtain the best possible performance of the final material, the main parameters that are developed and optimized are the physicochemical properties of the inorganic phase, such as the surface area, the morphology, the particle size, the interaction with the polymer chains and their functional groups, but also the degree of dispersion and adhesion at the interface with the matrix, which play a crucial role and can be controlled by acting on the chemical modification of fillers and on the techniques used for their mixing with the matrix.

The research group is able to synthesize, for the specific needs, inorganic fillers compatible with polymer matrices and to disperse them by direct polymerization or by melt mixing using Brabender or co-rotating twin-screw extruders.

Moreover, in the field of composite materials research has focused on the preparation of materials based on poly (butylene succinate) (PBS), which constitutes one of the most emerging biopolymers. Currently the application of this polyester is limited due to the high production costs and reduced mechanical and gas barrier properties. To solve these issues composites with lignocellulosic fibers such as those derived from coconut, sugarcane bagasse, curauá and sisal have been prepared through the technique of thermoforming. Excellent results in terms of adhesion at the interface and mechanical properties were obtained without chemically altering the fibers and then developing a final material completely "bio".

Main publications

L. Sisti, G. Totaro, M. Vannini, P. Fabbri, S. Kalia, A. Zatta, A. Celli. (2016). Evaluation of the retting process as a pre-treatment of vegetable fibers for the preparation of high-performance polymer biocomposites. INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS vol. 81, pp. 56-65.

G. Totaro, L. Sisti, A. Celli, H. Askanian, V. Verney, F. Leroux. (2016). Poly(butylene succinate) bionanocomposites: a novel bio-organomodified layered double hydroxide for superior mechanical properties. RSC ADVANCES vol. 6, pp. 4780-4791.

L. Sisti, J. Belcari, L. Mazzocchetti, G. Totaro, M. Vannini, L. Giorgini, A. Zucchelli, A. Celli. (2016). Multicomponent reinforcing system for poly(butylene succinate): composites containing poly(L-lactide) electrospun mats loaded with graphene. polymer testing vol. 50, pp. 283-291.

E. Frollini, N. Bartolucci, L. Sisti. A. Celli, (2015). Biocomposites based on poly(butylene succinate) and curaua: mechanical and morphological properties. polymer testing vol. 45, pp. 168-173.

G. Totaro, P. Marchese, L. Sisti, A. Celli. (2015). Use of ionic liquids based on phosphonium salts for preparing biocomposites by in situ polymerization. Journal Of Applied Polymer Science. pp. 42467-4276.

F. Leroux, A. Dalod, M. Hennous, L. Sisti, G. Totaro, A. Celli, C. Coelho, V. Verney, (2014). X-ray diffraction and rheology cross-study of polymer chain penetrating surfactant tethered layered double hydroxide resulting into intermixed structure with polypropylene, poly(butylene succinate) and poly(dimethyl)siloxane. Applied Clay Science. vol. 100 (3), pp. 102-111.

E. Frollini, N. Bartolucci, A. Celli, L. Sisti. (2013). Poly(butylene succinate) reinforced with different lignocellulosic fibers. Industrial Crops And Products. vol. 45, pp. 160-169.

L. Sisti, G. Totaro, M. Fiorini, A. Celli, C. Coelho, M. Hennous, V. Verney, F. Leroux. (2013). Poly(butylene succinate)/Layered double hydroxide biocomposites: relationship between chemical structure of LDH anion, delamination strategy, and final properties. Journal Of Applied Polymer Science. vol. 130(3), pp. 1931-1940.

L. Sisti, L. Cruciani, G. Totaro, M. Vannini, C. Berti, D.M. Tobaldi, A. Tucci, I. Aloisio, D. Di Gioia, S. Commereuc. (2012). TiO2 deposition on the surface of activated fluoropolymer substrate, Thin Solid Films. vol. 520(7), pp. 2824- 2828.

G. Totaro, C. Coelho, M. Hennous, M. Fiorini, L. Sisti, V. Verney, F. Leroux. (2012). Novel poly(butylene succinate) nanocomposites with organo modified layered double hydroxide. Environmental Engineering And Management Journal. vol. 11, (3), pp. S118.

E. Frollini, N. Bartolucci, A. Celli, L. Sisti. (2012). Composites based on poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) and lignocellulosic fibers. Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Composite Materials ECCM15, Venice.

A. Celli, P. Marchese, M. Vannini, C. Berti, I. Fortunati, R. Signorini, R. Bozio. (2011). Synthesis of novel fullerene-functionalized polysulfones for optical limiting applications. Reactive & Functional Polymers. vol. 71(6), pp. 641-647.

M. Colonna, C. Berti, E. Binassi, M. Fiorini, S. Karanam, D.J. Brunelle (2010). Nanocomposite of montmorillonite with telechelic sulfonated poly(butylene terephthalate): Effect of ionic groups on clay dispersion, mechanical and thermal properties. European Polymer Journal vol. 46, pp. 918-927

C. Berti, M. Fiorini, L. Sisti. (2009). Synthesis of poly(butylene terephthalate) nanocomposites using anionic clays. EUROPEAN Polymer Journal vol. 45, pp. 70 - 78

Patents

S. Karanam, C. Berti, E. Binassi, D.J. Brunelle, M. Colonna, M. Fiorini (2010). Process for synthesis of imidazolium and benzimidazolium surfactants and their use in clays and nanocomposites. US 2010056693

D.J. Brunelle, M. Colonna, M. Fiorini, C. Berti, E. Binassi (2009). Polycarbonate nanocomposites and processes for production of polycarbonate nanocomposites. WO 2009020968.

D.J. Brunelle, M. Colonna, C. Berti, M. Fiorini (2006). Nanocomposite polymer composition with improved physical and mechanical properties useful for automotive parts. US 200611646.