• Effect of the Molecular Structure of TPU on the Cellular Structure of Nanocellular Polymers Based on PMMA/TPU Blends

      Sánchez-Calderón, Ismael; orcid: 0000-0003-3367-8371; email: ismaelsc@fmc.uva.es; Bernardo, Victoria; email: v.bernardo@cellmattechnologies.com; Santiago-Calvo, Mercedes; orcid: 0000-0001-7678-5746; email: mercesc@fmc.uva.es; Naji, Haneen; email: haneen.naji@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk; Saiani, Alberto; email: a.saiani@manchester.ac.uk; Rodríguez-Pérez, Miguel Ángel; orcid: 0000-0002-3607-690X; email: marrod@fmc.uva.es (MDPI, 2021-09-10)
      In this work, the effects of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) chemistry and concentration on the cellular structure of nanocellular polymers based on poly(methyl-methacrylate) (PMMA) are presented. Three grades of TPU with different fractions of hard segments (HS) (60%, 70%, and 80%) have been synthesized by the prepolymer method. Nanocellular polymers based on PMMA have been produced by gas dissolution foaming using TPU as a nucleating agent in different contents (0.5 wt%, 2 wt%, and 5 wt%). TPU characterization shows that as the content of HS increases, the density, hardness, and molecular weight of the TPU are higher. PMMA/TPU cellular materials show a gradient cell size distribution from the edge of the sample towards the nanocellular core. In the core region, the addition of TPU has a strong nucleating effect in PMMA. Core structure depends on the HS content and the TPU content. As the HS or TPU content increases, the cell nucleation density increases, and the cell size is reduced. Then, the use of TPUs with different characteristics allows controlling the cellular structure. Nanocellular polymers have been obtained with a core relative density between 0.15 and 0.20 and cell sizes between 220 and 640 nm.