PE/PEO Cocontinuous Polymer Blends With Application in Gas Separation Membranes
This project investigates the effect of reactive compatibilization, shear rate, and annealing time on the cocontinuous morphology of polyethylene (PE)/ polyethylene oxide (PEO) blends. The characterization of surfaces and cross-sections of bulk samples and pressed films is carried out through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) after solvent-extraction of the PEO phase. Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) is employed for acquiring 3D images of porous PE sheets. Porous PE sheets with 100 µm thickness are used as substrates for gas separation membranes made from polymerized ionic liquids. The researchers then study the effect of pore size and wall functionality on the performance and properties of the membranes. An oil-immersed 60 X objective lens is used with LSCM to obtain a stack of optical micrographs. The 2D images have to be deconvolved, tresholded prior to the reconstruction of 3D images. MSI's BSCL and SDVL offer image postprocessing software which is necessary to obtain rendered 3D geometry of the membrane structure. Once the 3D structure is generated, it can be meshed and the membrane performance under various conditions can be modeled using Comsol software, also available in the BSCL.