The ability to force immiscible polymers into specific, targeted structures would enable the generation of blends with tailored performance by exploiting the intimate relationship between structure and blend properties. Here we present a strategy for the forced assembly of immiscible polymers into targeted structures via development of a planar polymer micro-mixer (PPMM). The PPMM drives streams of molten polymer through mixing chambers, which are fabricated from metal shims that contain flow channels. By stacking the shims, complex 3D mixing flows can be generated. Similar to micro-fluidic devices, the PPMM requires relatively small sample sizes (< 100 mg), allows easy reconfiguration of the flow geometry, and allows optical access to the flow. We observe the creation of multi-layers and co-axial cylinders in the first five mixing units, beyond that that interfacial tension and non-ideal flow tends to force the creation of mixed domain/matrix structures. We anticipate the PPMM will be an important tool in the development of structure/property relationships and of processing strategies for quantity limited materials. The PPMM, along with the recently developed multi-sample micro-slit rheomter, is expected to be a key component of the polymer processing lab-on-a-chip .
Citation: Polymer Engineering and Science
Pub Type: Journals
Forced assembly, Mixer, Microfluidic, Multilayer, Mixer, Morphology, Polymer melts