Synthesis of Polyimides in Molecular-Scale Confinement for Low-Density Hybrid Nanocomposites

Scott G. Isaacson, Jade I. Fostvedt, Hilmar Koerner, Jeffery W. Baur, Krystelle Lionti, Willi Volksen, Geraud Dubois, Reinhold H. Dauskardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work, we exploit a confinement-induced molecular synthesis and a resulting bridging mechanism to create confined polyimide thermoset nanocomposites that couple molecular confinement-enhanced toughening with an unprecedented combination of high-temperature properties at low density. We describe a synthesis strategy that involves the infiltration of individual polymer chains through a nanoscale porous network while simultaneous imidization reactions increase the molecular backbone stiffness. In the extreme limit where the confinement length scale is much smaller than the polymer's molecular size, confinement-induced molecular mechanisms give rise to exceptional mechanical properties. We find that polyimide oligomers can undergo cross-linking reactions even in such molecular-scale confinement, increasing the molecular weight of the organic phase and toughening the nanocomposite through a confinement-induced energy dissipation mechanism. This work demonstrates that the confinement-induced molecular bridging mechanism can be extended to thermoset polymers with multifunctional properties, such as excellent thermo-oxidative stability and high service temperatures (>350 °C).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7040-7044
Number of pages5
JournalNano letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 8 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Hybrid materials
  • low density materials
  • molecular confinement
  • nanocomposites
  • polyimides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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