Small nanoparticles have surprisingly big effects on polymer nanocomposites

(DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Polymer nanocomposites mix particles billionths of a meter in diameter with polymers, which are long molecular chains. Often used to make injection-molded products, they are common in automobiles, fire retardants, packaging materials, drug-delivery systems, medical devices, coatings, adhesives, sensors, membranes and consumer goods. When a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory tried to verify that shrinking the nanoparticle size would adversely affect the mechanical properties of polymer nanocomposites, they got a big surprise.

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