Both experimental results and theoretical models suggest the decisive role of the filler–matrix interfaces on the dielectric, piezoelectric, pyroelectric, and electrocaloric properties of ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites. However, there remains a lack of direct structural evidence to support the so-called interfacial effect in dielectric nanocomposites. Here, a chemical mapping of the interfacial coupling between the nanofiller and the polymer matrix in ferroelectric polymer nanocomposites by combining atomic force microscopy–infrared spectroscopy (AFM–IR) with first-principles calculations and phase-field simulations is provided. The addition of ceramic fillers into a ferroelectric polymer leads to augmentation of the local conformational disorder in the vicinity of the interface, resulting in the local stabilization of the all-trans conformation (i.e., the polar β phase). The formation of highly polar and inhomogeneous interfacial regions, which is further enhanced with a decrease of the filler size, has been identified experimentally and verified by phase-field simulations and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. This work offers unprecedented structural insights into the configurational disorder-induced interfacial effect and will enable rational design and molecular engineering of the filler–matrix interfaces of electroactive polymer nanocomposites to boost their collective properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering