Composites Science and Technology, 2018, vol 164pp. 34-43
A novel interfacial compatibilization technique for incompatible polymer blends or composites is proposed, in which a transitioning layer was introduced between the matrix and the dispersed phase of the otherwise incompatible components. The transitioning phase should have good interactions with both the components, resulting in lower interfacial energy between the phases. Theoretically, it is hypothesized that if the sum of the interfacial tension between the transitioning phase and both the components of the composite is smaller than the interfacial tension between the two components, the encapsulation of the dispersed phase by the transitioning phase is spontaneous, which will lead to better interphase interfacial interactions. Since this compatibilizing technique relies purely on judicial selection of a polymer with suitable surface energy as the transitioning layer, no tedious chemical synthetic processes are required. To illustrate the proposed technique, incompatible Poly(lactic acid)/Thermoplastic Starch (PLA/TPS) blend is compatibilized with Poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) as the transitioning layer in this paper. With PBS encapsulating the dispersed TPS phase, PLA/PBS/TPS 60/10/30 wt% demonstrate a better mechanical synergy, with significant improvement in strength, ductility and toughness as compared to PLA/TPS 70/30 wt%. This technique can also be applied to design other multicomponent blends or composites.