POLYMER-NANOPARTICLE COMPOSITES FOR APPLICATIONS IN FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS
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The aim of this dissertation was to investigate flexible polymer-nanoparticle composites with unique magnetic and electrical properties. Toward this goal, two distinct projects were carried out. The first project explored the magneto-dielectric properties and morphology of flexible polymer-nanoparticle composites that possess high permeability (µ), high permittivity (ε) and minimal dielectric, and magnetic loss (tan δε, tan δµ). The main materials challenges were the synthesis of magnetic nanoparticle fillers displaying high saturation magnetization (Ms), limited coercivity, and their homogeneous dispersion in a polymeric matrix. Nanostructured magnetic fillers including polycrystalline iron core-shell nanoparticles, and constructively assembled superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles were synthesized, and dispersed uniformly in an elastomer matrix to minimize conductive losses. The resulting composites have demonstrated promising permittivity (22.3), permeability (3), and sustained low dielectric (0.1), magnetic (0.4) loss for frequencies below 2 GHz. This study demonstrated nanocomposites with tunable magnetic resonance frequency, which can be used to develop compact and flexible radio frequency devices with high efficiency. The second project focused on fundamental research regarding methods for the design of highly conductive polymer-nanoparticle composites that can maintain high electrical conductivity under tensile strain exceeding 100%. We investigated a simple solution spraying method to fabricate stretchable conductors based on elastomeric block copolymer fibers and silver nanoparticles. Silver nanoparticles were assembled both in and around block copolymer fibers forming interconnected dual nanoparticle networks, resulting in both in-fiber conductive pathways and additional conductive pathways on the outer surface of the fibers. Stretchable composites with conductivity values reaching 9000 S/cm maintained 56% of their initial conductivity after 500 cycles at 100% strain. The developed manufacturing method in this research could pave the way towards direct deposition of flexible electronic devices on any shaped substrate. The electrical and electromechanical properties of these dual silver nanoparticle network composites make them promising materials for the future construction of stretchable circuitry for displays, solar cells, antennas, and strain and tactility sensors.