Sorption, transport, and structural evidence for enhanced free volume in poly(4-methyl-2-pentyne)/fumed silica nanocomposite membranes

T. C. Merkel, B. D. Freeman, R. J. Spontak, Z. He, Ingo Pinnau, P. Meakin, A. J. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations

Abstract

In contrast to the performance of traditional filled polymer systems, penetrant permeability coefficients in high-free-volume, glassy poly(4-methyl-2-pentyne) (PMP) increase systematically and substantially with increasing concentration of nonporous, nanoscale fumed silica (FS). For instance, the permeability of PMP containing 40 wt % FS to methane is 2.3 times higher than that of the unfilled polymer. Gas and vapor uptake in the PMP/FS nanocomposites is essentially unaffected by the presence of up to 40 wt % FS, while penetrant diffusion coefficients increase regularly with increasing filler content. This increase in diffusivity is responsible for elevated permeability in the PMP/FS nanocomposites. The addition of FS to PMP augments the permeability of large penetrants more than that of small gases, consistent with a reduction in diffusivity selectivity. Consequently, vapor selectivity in the nanocomposites increases with increasing FS concentration. Activation energies of permeation in PMP decrease with increasing FS content, suggesting that penetrant diffusive jumps require less energy at higher filler concentrations. Positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS) reveals that FS subtly increases the free volume in PMP available for molecular transport. The accessible free volume measured by PALS correlates favorably with relative penetrant permeability in the nanocomposites. Transmission electron microscopy confirms that the FS nanoparticles are relatively well dispersed in PMP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-123
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry of Materials
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 14 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry

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