Polymer-based nanocomposite materials are used in magnetic storage devices and photovoltaic applications. Aggregation of the nanoparticles (NPs) within the polymer matrix limits the long-term stability of the materials and occurs more readily at high volume fractions of NPs.
Stephan Förster and co-workers, Universität Hamburg, Germany, have reported a method of creating fully miscible nanocomposites that show no NP aggregation, by using a spherical brush-like polymer to coat the NPs. Aggregation was prevented even at high volume fractions of NPs. This allowed, for the first time, a systematic investigation of the mechanical properties of a nanocomposite as a function of the amount of added NPs. The coating also provides a key step for the control of interparticle separation by varying the length of the polymer chain.