Polymer-particle composites are used in virtually every field of technology. When the particles approach nanometer dimensions, large interfacial regions are created. In favorable situations, the spatial distribution of these interfaces can be controlled to create new hybrid materials with physical and transport properties inaccessible in their constituents or poorly prepared mixtures. This review surveys progress in the last decade in understanding phase behavior, structure, and properties of nanoparticle-polymer composites. The review takes a decidedly polymers perspective and explores how physical and chemical approaches may be employed to create hybrids with controlled distribution of particles. Applications are studied in two contexts of contemporary interest: battery electrolytes and electrodes. In the former, the role of dispersed and aggregated particles on ion-transport is considered. In the latter, the polymer is employed in such small quantities that it has been historically given titles such as binder and carbon precursor that underscore its perceived secondary role. Considering the myriad functions the binder plays in an electrode, it is surprising that highly filled composites have not received more attention. Opportunities in this and related areas are highlighted where recent advances in synthesis and polymer science are inspiring new approaches, and where newcomers to the field could make important contributions. Polymer-particle composites are used in virtually every field of technology. When the particles approach nanometer dimensions, large interfacial regions are created that can be exploited for applications. The fundamental approaches and bottom-up synthesis strategies for understanding and controlling nanoparticle dispersion in polymers are reviewed. Applications of these approaches for creating polymer-particle composite electrolytes and electrodes for energy storage are also considered. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-C1-018-02
Acknowledgements: This article is part of an ongoing series celebrating the 25th anniversary of Advanced Materials. This publication is based on work supported in part by the National Science Foundation, Award No. DMR-1006323; by the Energy Materials Center at Cornell, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0001086; and by Award No. KUS-C1-018-02, made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). This work made use of the electron microscopy facility at the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR), an NSF-supported MRSEC through Grant DMR-1120296.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.