Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Douglass S. Kalika


The dynamic relaxation characteristics of Matrimid® (BTDA-DAPI) polyimide and several functionalized aromatic polyimides have been investigated using dynamic mechanical and dielectric methods. The functionalized polyimides were thermally rearranged to generate polybenzoxazole membranes with controlled free volume characteristics. All polyimides have application in membrane separations and exhibit three motional processes with increasing temperature: two sub-glass relaxations (ƴ and β transitions), and the glass-rubber (α) transition. For Matrimid, the low-temperature ƴ transition is purely non-cooperative, while the β sub-glass transition shows a more cooperative character as assessed via the Starkweather method. For the thermally rearranged polyimides, the ƴ transition is a function of the polymer synthesis method, thermal history, and ambient moisture. The β relaxation shows a dual character with increasing thermal rearrangement, the emerging lower-temperature component reflecting motions encompassing a more compact backbone contour. For the glass-rubber (α) transition, dynamic mechanical studies reveal a strong shift in Tα to higher temperatures and a progressive reduction in relaxation intensity with increasing degree of thermal rearrangement.

The dynamic relaxation characteristics of poly(ether imide) and poly(methyl methacrylate) nanocomposites were investigated by dynamic mechanical analysis and dielectric spectroscopy. The nanoparticles used were native and surface-modified fumed silicas. The nanocomposites display a dual glass transition behavior encompassing a bulk polymer glass transition, and a second, higher-temperature transition reflecting relaxation of polymer chain segments constrained owing to their proximity to the particle surface. The position and intensity of the higher-temperature transition varies with particle loading and surface chemistry, and reflects the relative populations of segments constrained or immobilized at the particle-polymer interface. Dielectric measurements, which were used to probe the time-temperature response across the local sub-glass relaxations, indicate no variation in relaxation characteristics with particle loading.

Nanocomposite studies were also conducted on rubbery poly(ethylene oxide) networks crosslinked in the presence of MgO or SiO2 nanoparticles. The inclusion of nanoparticles led to a systematic increase in rubbery modulus and a modest positive offset in the measured glass transition temperature (Tα) for both systems. The sizeable increases in gas transport with particle loading reported for certain other rubbery nanocomposite systems were not realized in these crosslinked networks.