Physical Chemistry and Polymer Science
Objectives The research activities of FYSC are focused on '(molecular and supramolecular) structure - processing - property' relations in polymers for developing materials with improved performance. An important collection of analytical techniques and characterization procedures is available for this purpose. New macromolecular microstructures are designed by polymer synthesis in collaboration with external partners. A contribution to the international progress of thermal analysis for materials' characterization is aimed, especially in the field of Modulated Temperature DSC (MTDSC), spatially localised thermal analysis (Micro-TA and Nano-TA), (ultra)fast thermal analysis (Rapid-scanning DSC and Chip Calorimetry) and hyphenated thermal techniques (Rheo-DSC). Education and training in thermal analysis for the academic and industrial community is also an objective. Research orientations Structure-processing-property relationships are characterized in different classes of polymeric materials by means of state-of-the-art analytical techniques and characterization procedures based on a physical-chemical approach. Current research projects in collaboration with academic and industrial partners are dealing with: - Thermosets: reaction mechanism, kinetics, modelling, reaction-induced structure formation, IPNs, waterborne systems, pultrusion of thermoset composites; - Inorganic polymers: low-temperature synthesized materials, heterogeneous production mechanism and kinetics, molecular structure and thermal properties, hybrid systems; - Bio(degradable) polymers: thermal properties, barrier properties, slow crystallization processes, thermoplastic starch; - Multi-phase polymers, polymer interphases and nano-structured polymer systems: micro- and nanocomposites, blends, stimuli-responsive (aqueous) solutions, hydrogels, block copolymers, polymer/metal interfaces, smart polymer surfaces. Recent and future activities are directed to: - Novel trends in polymer science and technology, i.e. nano-structured (hybrid) multi-functional polymers, supramolecular organisation in polymers and polymer (aqueous) solutions; - A further extension of the thermo-analytical infrastructure with specialised equipment of ultimate performance (ultrafast, ultrasensitive, spatially resolved, hyphenated) to allow nano-scale thermal analysis both in the bulk and at the surface of the polymer system; - A continued collaboration with other research teams, gathering expertise in polymer synthesis, characterization, theory, modelling, rheology and processing. Equipment & Infrastructure FYSC has an extended infrastructure of thermal analysis equipment in combination with complementary techniques for the physical-chemical characterization of multi-functional polymer systems: - Thermal Analysis: DSC, MDSC, DDSC, (M)DSC with Tzero technology, TGA, TMA, DMA, DEA, Nano(micro)-TA with heat-cool stage, Nano(micro)-calorimetry with titration mode; Rheo-DSC; Rapid-scanning DSC; Chip calorimetry for fast scanning and AC-calorimetry; - IR-Spectroscopy: FT-IR, IR-microscopy, specular reflectance, HATR, NIR FT-Raman spectroscopy, TGA/FT-IR; - Miscellaneous techniques: GPC with viscometry, RI and PDA detectors, dynamic rheometry, optical microscopy and UV-Vis spectroscopy in combination with hot stage, High-resolution Ultrasound Spectroscopy, AFM.