The research of the group is focused on the processing-structure-properties relationships in polymeric materials. The materials studied include neat polymers, polymer blends, polymer composites and nanocomposites. The main current research topics are those devoted to polymer blends and polymer nanocomposites. The specific lines in the first topic are i) the development of new polymer blends, mainly based on engineering-high performance polymers, including the compatibilization of immiscible systems, and ii) the development of supertough materials by blending a thermoplastic polymer with a second elastomer-like component. The research on polymer nanocomposites includes thermoplastic-organoclay and thermoplastic-carbon nanotube systems and the specific lines are i) the optimization of the nanocomposite properties by means of the selection of the modification of the clay or nanotube and the processing parameters, ii) the development of ternary polymer-polymer-nanoparticle nanocomposites (nanoblends), and the iii) the obtention of supertough nanocomposites.
New polymer blends
The objective in this line is the preparation and characterization of new polymer blends based on engineering-high performance polymers with potential practical applications. The blends are prepared in the melt state and characterized from a phase structure, morpholology and thermal behaviour point of view. The main mechanical and thermal properties are determined and the processing-structure-properties relationships are established. In the case of incompatible blends, compatibilization is attempted by means of the addition of a third component or by reactive processing.
Engineering polymers are modified by means of the addition of minority amounts of elastomer-like thermoplastics, with the aim to develop new supertough materials, and to contribute to the knowledge of the parameters and mechanisms that lead to supertoughness.
New polymer nanocomposites are prepared by melt-processing techniques, and the nanostructure and properties are optimized by an adequate selection of the modification of the nanofillers and of the processing method and conditions.
Nanocomposites based on polymer blends
The main objective is to develop new nanocomposites based on polymer blends reinforced with organically modified clays or carbon nanotubes by means of i) the improvement of the morphology and the mechanical behaviour of compatible blends by means of the production of nanothermoplastic-thermoplastic systems, and ii) the compatibilization of immiscible blends by the addition of a nanofiller and its location at the interface.
The toughness increase of engineering thermoplastics by means of the incorporation of an elastomeric polymer is combined with the addition of nanoparticles to improve the matrix stiffness. In this way, an optimum stiffness-toughness balance is obtained in the new materials developed.