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Polymers, biopolymers and advanced composite materials

Keywords: polymers; biopolymers; advanced plastics; composite materials; nanocomposites
Polymers, biopolymers and advanced composite materials - Fig. 1
Fig. 1. Polymer recycling: example of phaseseparetd, compatibilized PE-PET blend (picture by P. Fabbri)
Fig. 2. Electrically conductive bionanocomposite filled with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (picture by P. Fabbri)
Fig. 3. Scratch test on a polycarbonate substrate coated with organic-inorganic hybrids (picture by P. Fabbri).

Research in polymers, biopolymers and advanced composite materials is developed following different themes, continuously updated to face the most recent trends in the field. The engineering approach in the development of innovative plastic solutions for advanced applications is applied by combining the chemistry of polymer synthesis and polymer chemical modification for the preparation of new molecular structures, with technological aspects dealing with polymer processability and applications in relevant industrial environments. Bio-based polymers (poly(hydroxyalkanoate)s, poly(lactic acid), bio-polyolefins and others) are deeply investigated to support their diffusion in different production chains, such as packaging, automotive, cosmetics, medicine, civil engineering and architectural restoration. Engineering polymers for metal replacement and hard environment applications are also studied. Particular interest is devoted to the study and modification of polymer surfaces and interfaces; examples are: - the development of tailored organic-inorganic nanostructures hybrid coatings to improve surface properties of common plastics (scratch and radiation resistance, barrier properties, flame resistance, antibacterial properties, etc.); - the chemical modification of polymers with perfluorinated segments to get omni-phobic, anti-adhesive and self-cleaning surfaces. Advanced composites and nanocomposites are developed with either traditional or bio-based polymer matrices, and reinforcing fillers range from natural fibers, to microcrystalline cellulose, to conductive carbon nanostructures (nanotubes, graphene) and tailored ceramics (hydroxyapatite, silicates, glasses, etc.). Mechanical, microstructural and thermal charac-terization of traditional and innovative polymeric materials is performed. Special focus is ad-dressed to investigate the relationship occurring between microstructure and macroscopical properties of the polymer. An important aspect is related to the study of polymer degradation in specific and tailored environmental conditions (oxygen, temperature, UV radiation, relative humidity, body fluids). The life-time of the polymer is evaluated through the choice of suitable diagnostic properties. Technological aspects, mainly related to polymer processing, are also faced in strict collaboration with national and international Companies working with plastics; the suitability and potential of different polymers for specific industrial applications is evaluated also with field testing and practical feasibility studies. Mechanical and chemical polymer recycling is also studied.

Main publications

P. Fabbri, E. Bassoli, S. Bittolo Bon, L. Valentini (2012). Preparation and characterization of poly (butylene terephthalate) / graphene composites by in-situ polymerization of cyclic butylene terephthalate. Polymer, vol. 53, p. 897-902, doi: 10.1016/j.polymer.2012.01.015

P. Fabbri, F. Pilati, L. Rovati, Ruel McKenzie, J. Mijovic (2011). Poly(ethylene oxide)–silica hybrids entrapping sensitive dyes for biomedical optical pH sensors: Molecular dynamics and optical response. Optical Materials, vol. 33, p. 1362- 1369

M. Ghahari, R. Aghababazadeh, T. Ebadzadeh, A. Mirhabibi, R. Brydson, P. Fabbri, F. Najafi (2011). Synthesis of Suitable SiO2 Nano Particles as the Core in Core–Shell Nanostructured Materials. Journal Of Nanoscience And Nanotechnology, vol. 11, p. 5311-5317, ISSN: 1533-4880

L. Valentini, P. Fabbri, M. Messori, M. Degli Esposti, S. Bittolo Bon (2014). Multilayer films composed of conductive poly(3- hydroxybutyrate)/carbon nanotubes bionanocomposites and a photoresponsive conducting polymer. Journal Of Polymer Science. Part B, Polymer Physics, vol. 52, p. 596-602, doi: 10.1002/polb.23459

Musetti A, Paderni K, Fabbri P, Pulvirenti A, Al- Moghazy M, Fava P (2014). Poly(vinyl alcohol)- Based Film Potentially Suitable for Antimicrobial Packaging Applications. Journal Of Food Science, vol. 79, p. 577-582, doi: 10.1111/1750- 3841.12375

P. Fabbri, L. Valentini, S. Bittolo Bon, D. Foix, L. Pasquali, M. Montecchi, M. Sangermano (2012). In-situ graphene oxide reduction during UV-photopolymerization of graphene oxide/acrylic resins mixtures. POLYMER, vol. 53, p. 6039-6044, ISSN: 0032-3861, doi: 10.1016/j.polymer.2012.10.045

S. Mohamadpour, B. Pourabbas, P. Fabbri (2011). Anti-scratch and adhesion properties of photo-curable polymer/clay nanocomposite coatings based on methacrylate monomers. Scientia Iranica, vol. 18, p. 765-771, doi: 10.1016/j.scient.2011.06.001

Messori M., Fabbri P., Pilati F., Tonelli C., Toselli M. (2011). Perfluoropolyether-based organic– inorganic coatings. Progress In Organic Coatings, vol. 72, p. 461-468, doi: 10.1016/j.porgcoat.2011.06.003

A.S. Luyt, M. Messori, P. Fabbri, J.P. Mofokeng, R. Taurino, T. Zanasi, F. Pilati (2011). Polycarbonate reinforced with silica nanoparticles. Polymer Bulletin, vol. 66, p. 991-1004, doi: 10.1007/s00289-010-0408-5

Saccani A., Toselli M. and Pilati F. (2011). Improvement of the thermo-oxidative stability of LDPE films by organic-inorganic hybrid coatings Polymer Degradation and Stability 96, 212-219.

Prete F., Esposito L., Tucci A. and Motori A. (2008). Materiali ceramici nanostrutturati: stato dell’arte. C+CA (Ceramurgia+Ceramica Acta), XXXVIII, 1, 33-42.

Motori A., Patuelli F., Saccani A., Cannillo V., Manfredini T. and Sola A. (2007). Technological properties of celsian-reinforced glass matrix composites. Ceramics International. 33, No. 8, 1597-1601.