Comparative Study of Polyethylene Films Embedded with Oxide Nanoparticles of Granulated and Free-Standing Nature
Le Guyon, Valerie
Nanocomposite polymer films are a very diverse research field due to their many applications. The search for low-cost, versatile methods, producing regulated properties of the final products, has thus become extremely relevant. We have previously reported a bulk-scale process, dispersing granulated metal oxide nanoparticles, of both unary and multi-component nature, in a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) polymer matrix, establishing a reference in the produced films’ optical properties, due to the high degree of homogeneity and preservation of the primary particle size allowed by this method. In this work, unmodified, free-standing particles, namely zinc oxide (ZnO) , titanium dioxide (TiO2), aluminum oxide (Al2O3), and silicon dioxide (SiO2) are blended directly with LDPE, and the optical properties of the fabricated films are compared to those of films made using the granulation process. The direct blending process evidently allows for control of the secondary particle size and ensures a homogeneous dispersion of the particles, albeit to a lesser extent than the granulation process. Despite the secondary particle size being comparatively larger than its granulated counterpart, the process still provides a regulated degree of deagglomeration of the free-standing oxide particles, so it can be used as a low-cost alternative. The regulation of the secondary particle size tunes the transmission and reflection spectra, in both unary and mixed oxide compositions. Finally, the direct blending process exhibits a clear ability to tune the energy band gap in mixed oxides.