Refractive Index Engineering as a Novel Strategy toward Highly Transparent and Tough Sustainable Polymer Blends


High transparency and toughness are prerequisites for sustainable polymers if they are to find wide application as alternatives to petroleum-based polymers. However, the utility of sustainable polymers such as commercially available polylactide (PLA) is limited by their inherent brittleness and high cost. Unfortunately, toughening PLA-based materials via cost-effective blending strategies without sacrificing transparency remains a challenge. Herein, we report a novel strategy involving active refractive index matching for creation of highly transparent and tough PLA blends. Specifically, we engineered the refractive index of a promising renewable poly(epichlorohydrin-co-ethylene oxide) elastomer by introducing polar ionic moieties via a simple chemical method, and we blended the resulting ionomers with PLA. The best blend showed an impact strength of > 80 kJ/m2, an elongation at break of 400%, and high transparency (90%). These characteristics are of great importance for potential applications such as packaging. Our strategy offers a versatile new way to prepare high-performance sustainable polymer materials with excellent transparency.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51573130).

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Correspondence to Kun-Yu Zhang or Li Pan.

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Sun, S., Wang, H., Huang, D. et al. Refractive Index Engineering as a Novel Strategy toward Highly Transparent and Tough Sustainable Polymer Blends. Chin J Polym Sci (2020).

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  • Polylactide
  • Blending strategies
  • Refractive index matching
  • Poly(epichlorohydrin-co-ethylene oxide)
  • Ionomers