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High performance polymer systems

1.1 Polymer blends

Conventional polymers answer to performance criteria, are low cost and may be considered like a mature technology. Research focuses more and more towards materials with high functionality such as assembly of multi-phased materials with controlled permeability (material with barriers or materials with gas selective membranes) or even material with high electrical conductivity for use in electronics, combustion batteries, piezoelectric sensors or even barriers against electromagnetic interferences. Allying mechanical properties to functional ones has for consequence to combine different materials in multi-phase systems where the morphology plays a key part. The activities involved in this research theme include:

1.1-1 Synthesis and innovating compatibilizers
1.1-2 Study of interfaces
1.1-3 Process and property modelling
1.1-4 Development of innovating films and membranes
1.1-5 Development of electrotechnical materials

1.2 Bio-based polymers

Ten years ago, bio-based polymers (or bioplastics) where regarded as simple curiosities. The rapid development of biotechnologies, environmental awareness and rising costs of fossil resources have all contributed to transfering bioplastics from curiosity to realisations and success stories. Although still modest, the market share of bioplastics is sought to expand further and rises by 15% each year. In the US, the production volume expected for 2012 is 350 million kg; a total net value of 845M$. Packaging presents 70% of the market demand and will continue to represent the dominant application. These numbers show the significant long term growth potential of biopolymers. Substituting petroleum based product is not their sole advantage, some bioplastics are compostable, opening a number of pathways for product end of life when recycling is not feasible.

Though this growth is astonishing, the materials actually available on the market have some underwhelming performances and higher production costs. As with functional materials, solutions to the latter appear to be in the development of multi-phase systems through complementary bioplastics and addition of organic or inorganic fillers. The activities involved in this research theme include:

1.2-1 Morphological control
1.2-2 Natural fiber and nanoparticle reinforcements
1.2-3 Rheology and processability
1.2-4 Bioplastic crystallization
1.2-5 Processing and bioplastic final properties

High performance composite systems

2.1 Composite materials and high performance structures

The applications for composite materials have multiplied tremendously in the past 10 years. An impressive number of companies, big or small, located in the province of Quebec have integrated new technologies in terms of design, analysis, and production of materials and infrastructures. However, many companies often do not have the human and technological resources to follow this competitive market, putting them in a vulnerable situation against international and local rivals. In this context, all research activities of the center are aimed at supplying Quebec with engineers, know-how, tools and technologies for better use of composite materials. Hence, the research activities in this theme include:

2.1-1 Development of composite applied processes
2.1-2 Composite applied processes modeling
2.1-3 Composite material performance
2.1-4 Composite material performance modeling
2.1-5 Design and analysis of composite structures
2.1-6 Development of intelligent materials and structures

2.2 Nanostructured composites

Nanostructures composites made the appearance more than 20 years ago and have the potential to revolutionize the application and elaboration of composite materials. The atom-to-structure approach is possible with nanostructure composites and has impacts not only on the processing methods but the material properties. Nanocomposite research focuses on phenomenon at the molecular and even atomic scale. Knowledge on the impact of these phenomenon along the entire nanocomposite production chain of is crutial. In this context, all the activities of research of the center will focus on systemic and structured development of future composite materials. The research themes include:

2.2-1 Development of nanostructures composites and their processing
2.2-2 Nanostructured composites process modelling
2.2-3 Nanostructured particles performance modelling
2.2-4 Multi-scale composites
2.2-5 Micro and nanofabrication