Mechanically Strong Polymer Sheets from Aligned Ultrahigh Molecular- Weight Polyethylene Nanocomposites

ZL Zhang and S Mogurampelly and S Percec and Y Hu and G Fiorin and ML Klein and SQ Ren, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS, 9, 2652-2658 (2018).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b00790

Ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is of great interest as a next-generation body armor material because of its superior mechanical properties. However, such unique properties depend critically on its microscopic structure characteristics, including the degree of crystallinity, chain alignment, and morphology. Here, we present a highly aligned UHMWPE and its composite sheets containing uniformly dispersed boron nitride (BN) nanosheets. The dispersion of BN nanosheets into the UHMWPE matrix increases its mechanical properties over a broad temperature range. Experiments and simulation confirm that the alignment of chain segments in the 33 composite matrix increases with temperature, leading to an improvement in mechanical properties at high temperature. Together with the large thermal conductivity of UHMWPE and BN, our findings serve to expand the application spectrum of highly aligned polymer nanocomposite materials for ballistic panels and body armor over a broad range of temperatures.

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