Victoria Bernardo⁎, Judith Martín-de León, Ester Laguna-Gutiérrez, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez-Pérez
Cellular Materials Laboratory (CellMat), Condensed Matter Physics Department, University of Valladolid, Campus Miguel Delibes, Paseo de Belén n7, 47011 Valladolid, Spain
In this work, a new system based on poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) sepiolite nanocomposites that allow producing nanocellular polymers by using the gas dissolution foaming technique is described. Nanocomposites with different nanoparticle types and contents have been produced by extrusion. From these blends, cellular materials have been fabricated using the so-called gas dissolution foaming method. An extensive study of the effect of the processing parameters (saturation pressure and foaming temperature) on the cellular materials produced has been performed. Results showed that among the three sepiolites used, only those modified with a quaternary ammonium salt are suitable for being used as nucleating agents in PMMA. With these nanoparticles bimodal cellular polymers, with micro and nanometric cells, have been produced. Cell sizes in the range of 300–500 nm and cell densities of the order of 1013–1014 nuclei/cm3 have been obtained in the nanocellular region. A foaming temperature of 80 °C and a wide range of saturation pressures (between 10 and 30 MPa) and low particle contents (between 0.5 and 1.5 wt%) allow obtaining these materials. Furthermore, it has been found that cell size in the nanometric population can be controlled by means of the particles content; a reduction in the cell size is obtained when the particles content increases. Finally, results indicate that an increase in the foaming temperature leads to cellular nanocomposites with lower relative densities (below 0.21) and larger cell sizes (above 450 nm).