Tailoring Silica Surface Properties by Plasma Polymerization for Elastomer Applications

M. Tiwari, W.K. Dierkes, R.N. Datta, A.G. Talma, J.W.M. Noordermeer, W.J. van Ooij

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The surface properties of reinforcing fillers are a crucial factor for dispersion and filler–polymer interaction in rubber compounds, as they strongly influence the final vulcanized properties of the rubber article. Silica is gaining more and more importance as reinforcing filler for rubbers, as it allows for a reduction of rolling resistance and thus energy losses in tires, compared to the use of carbon black as filler. However, silica and common elastomers differ greatly in polarity and, therefore, are difficult to mix and thus have little interaction. In the present study plasma-coating of silica-filler with acetylene, thiophene and pyrrole is applied, and the surface-treated silicas are blended with S-SBR rubber, in an attempt to enhance the compatibility between the two. The dispersion and reinforcing effects of the modified silicas are investigated and compared with untreated and silanized silica. The relative rankings of the various coatings in reduction of filler–filler interaction, improved dispersion, enhanced polymer–filler interaction, apparent crosslink density and tensile mechanical properties are mutually different. Where the best silica dispersion and largest reduction in filler–filler interaction are obtained with polyacetylene coating and the worst with polythiophene coating, but the tensile properties achieved with the polythiophene coating are far better than all others. Apparently, the sulfur contained in the thiophene-moiety enhances the filler–polymer interaction and contributes to the degree of crosslinking. Unmodified silica performs worst in all aspects, also because its acidic nature harms the preferably alkaline vulcanization process. Silane treatment of silica has a positive effect on reduction of filler–filler interaction and improved dispersion, but has little effect on polymer–filler interaction in the still unvulcanized state. Its tensile properties after vulcanization are comparable with polyacetylene- or polypyrrole-coated silica. This investigation shows that the compatibility and interaction of silica with a polymer can be controlled by tailoring the surface energy of the filler by coating with plasma polymers. An appropriate monomer for the plasma polymerization process allows to improve the cured rubber properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2755-2774
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of adhesion science and technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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