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Scientists Create Biodegradable Nanocomposite Film for Stretchable Optical Devices

Polymers have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, finding applications in various industries. However, the demand for highly flexible and optically active polymers has led researchers to explore new materials and methodologies.

Shivam Dwivedi
Scientists Create Biodegradable Nanocomposite Film for Stretchable Optical Devices (Photo Source: PIB)
Scientists Create Biodegradable Nanocomposite Film for Stretchable Optical Devices (Photo Source: PIB)

Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, have achieved a significant breakthrough in the field of flexible and optically active polymers. They have successfully fabricated an innovative biodegradable nanocomposite film with outstanding mechanical properties, opening up possibilities for applications in stretchable optical devices, such as flexible displays and organic LEDs.

One approach involves incorporating nanomaterials into polymers to enhance their properties while preserving their inherent characteristics. Among the synthetic biodegradable polymers, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) has gained widespread attention due to its excellent film-forming capabilities and mechanical properties. Additionally, PVA's optical and mechanical attributes can be fine-tuned by introducing suitable nanomaterials.

Dr. Sarathi Kundu, an Associate Professor, and Mr. Saiyad Akhirul Ali, a Junior Research Fellow (JRF), both leading the research group from the physical sciences division at IASST, embarked on a mission to develop an optically active biodegradable nanocomposite film. They employed a straightforward solution casting technique, utilizing copper salt as a precursor for in-situ copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticle formation under varying heat treatments.

The team's efforts yielded remarkable results, as their nanocomposite films exhibited superior optical, mechanical, and antimicrobial properties when subjected to different heat treatments. Using a range of spectroscopic and microscopic techniques, they confirmed the formation of CuO nanoparticles within the polymer matrix during the heat treatment process.

The evaluation of mechanical properties further demonstrated the creation of an exceptionally flexible and robust nanocomposite film, boasting a tensile strength of up to 39 MPa and a remarkable flexibility of 169%, achieved through the incorporation of copper chloride.

This groundbreaking research, recently published in the journal "Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects," showcases the potential of the PVA-CuO nanocomposite film. Its simple fabrication method, involving solution casting and subsequent heat treatment, opens up exciting prospects for its use as a stretchable optical device.

This innovation could pave the way for the development of flexible displays and organic LEDs, revolutionizing the field of optical technology. The biodegradable nature of the material also aligns with sustainability goals, making it a promising candidate for various future applications.

Publication link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfa.2023.131840

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