Author(s): Zhai T, Zheng Q, Cai Z, Turng LS, Xia H, Gong S. Poly(vinyl alcohol)/cellulose nanofibril hybrid aerogels with an aligned microtubular porous structure and their composites with polydimethylsiloxane. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Apr 8;7(13):7436-44. doi: 10.1021/acsami.5b01679. Epub 2015 Mar 30. PMID 25822398
Superhydrophobic poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)/cellulose nanofibril (CNF) aerogels with a unidirectionally aligned microtubular porous structure were prepared using a unidirectional freeze-drying process, followed by the thermal chemical vapor deposition of methyltrichlorosilane. The silanized aerogels were characterized using various techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and contact angle measurements. The structure of the aerogels fully filled with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) was confirmed by SEM and optical microscopy. The mechanical properties of the resulting PDMS/aerogel composites were examined using both compressive and tensile tests. The compressive and tensile Young’s moduli of the fully filled PDMS/aerogel composites were more than 2-fold and 15-fold higher than those of pure PDMS. This study provides a novel alternative approach for preparing high performance polymer nanocomposites with a bicontinuous structure.