Stabilization of immiscible polymer blends using structure directing metal organic frameworks (MOFs)

We have developed a novel approach for compatibilizing immiscible polymer blends using metal organic frameworks (MOFs). For the first time we demonstrated that the droplet diameter of the dispersed phase in a 1:1 immiscible polymer blend composed of 6FDA-DAM:DABA [copolymer of 4,4-hexafluoroisopropylidene diphthalic anhydride (6FDA), 2,4,6-trimethyl-1,3-phenylenediamine and 3,5-diaminobenzoic acid (DABA)], and polybenzimidazole (PBI), is dramatically reduced obtaining a uniform microstructure with the incorporation of as low as 5% (w/w) of the zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8). This indicates a large improvement in the compatibility of the immiscible polymers with the inclusion of ZIF-8. As the ZIF-8 loading was further increased to 10% (w/w), the droplet diameter further decreased resulting in even higher compatibility. The compatibilizing effect can be attributed to a reduction in the interfacial energy of the immiscible polymers due to the interfacial localization of ZIF-8. This MOF based compatibilization of immiscible polymer blends can open up opportunities for the combination of different properties of polymers in membrane-based separations and in more applications.

This paper was originally published in Polymer 55, 2028-2034.

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