Controlling transparency in polyethylene (PEO)/silica gels

Lisa C. Klein, Christopher L. Beaudry

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


One of the simpler organic/inorganic hybrids to prepare by the sol-gel process is polyethylene (PEO)/silica. The reason for its simplicity is that PEO is soluble in water. PEO contains ether oxygens -(O-CH2-CH2-)- that readily form hydrogen bonds. The refractive index of PEO is low, 1.4537, and its glass transition temperature can be as low as -65°C, generally making it a crystalline polymer at room temperature. Hybrids of PEO/silica were prepared with molecular weights 200, 1000, 2000, and 3400. The lower molecular weights (200 and 1000) produced transparent hybrids over a range of loadings. The higher molecular weights (>2000) produced samples that were sensitive to the loading and especially the time of mixing before the samples were cast into closed containers. These trends indicate a competition between the reactions that lead to gelling and the tendency to phase separate. By following these trends, both the scale of the microstructure and the degree of transparency were adjusted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1997
EventSol-Gel Optics IV - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Jul 30 1997Aug 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Hybrid gels
  • Phase separation
  • Polyethylene oxide
  • Silica
  • Water-soluble polymer


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