This work focuses on the scalable synthesis and processing of nanostructures in polymer matrix nanocomposites (PMNCs) for applications that require photochemical functionality of these nanostructures. An in situ vapor deposition process using various metal and metal oxide precursors has been used to create a range of nanocomposites that display photochromic and photocatalytic behaviors. Under specific processing conditions, these composites consist of discrete nanoparticles distributed uniformly throughout the bulk of an optically transparent polymer matrix. Incorporating other chemical species as supplementary deposition agents in the synthesis process can modify these particles and produce complicated nanostructures with enhanced properties. In particular, work has been carried out to structure nanoparticles using laser irradiation. Starting with metallic or metal oxide nanoparticles in the polymer matrix, localized chemical vapor deposition in the near-particle environment has been carried out using laser irradiation to decompose chemical precursors leading to the formation of secondary structures surrounding the seed nanoparticles. Control of the spatial and temporal characteristics of the excitation source allows for synthesis of nanocomposites with a high degree of control over the location, composition and size of nanoparticles in the matrix and presents the opportunity to produce patterned materials with spatially varying properties.
Travis J. DeJournett, Karen Han, Lauren R. Olasov, Fan W. Zeng, Brennan Lee, and James B. Spicer, "Linear and nonlinear optical processing of polymer matrix nanocomposites," Proc. SPIE 9556, Nanoengineering: Fabrication, Properties, Optics, and Devices XII, 95560V (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 12, 2015; Published: 20 August 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2187113.
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