Nanocellular Polymers

Nanoporous polymeric materials are porous materials with pore sizes in the nanometer range (that is, below 500 nm), processed as bulk or film materials, and from a wide set of polymers. Over the last several years, research and development on these novel materials have progressed significantly, because it is believed that the reduction of the pore size to the nanometer range could strongly influence some of the properties of porous polymers, providing unexpected and improved properties compared to conventional porous and microporous polymers and non-porous solids.

In the last years, CellMat Laboratory has become a reference in this topic. The investigations carried out in CellMat have permitted to prove for the first time, the presence of the Knudsen effect in this type of breathtaking materials, to evidence the possibility of producing transparent foams and to prove the improved mechanical properties of these novel materials.

This research line includes the following topics:

  • Development of systems and formulations for the production of nanocellular polymers.
  • Analysis of the foaming mechanisms taking place in the production of nanocellular polymers using extreme or conventional processing conditions.
  • Evaluation of the composition – process – structure – properties relationship.

The promising properties of these materials made them interesting for several applications.

Cellular structure of a Microcellular and a Nanocellular polymer based on PMMA

Nanocellular polymers: Confinement effects

Nanocellular polymers: Potential areas of applications
Experimental data of the thermal conductivity of the gas phase as a function or cell size. The experimental data fit the Knudsen equation

Transparent nanocellular polymer with a relative density of 0.4 and a cell size of 11 nm.  The sample with the same relative density but 225 nm of cell size is opaque