Ionizing Radiation: A Versatile Tool for Nanostructuring of Polymers
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Very high energies of particulate (accelerated electrons, swift heavy ions) or electromagnetic wave (gamma-, X-rays) radiation can be used to initiate free radical based reactions in solids, liquids or gases. Because of non-selectivity of absorption of X-rays, gamma rays and accelerated electrons in matter free radicals are generated homogeneously in the bulk material. These free radicals on the polymers or monomers are used extensively in the synthesis and modification of polymeric materials. The unique properties of ionizing radiation make it a very useful tool in the top-down and bottom-up synthesis of nanomaterials. In this article the utilization of ionizing radiation in the form of swift heavy ions, accelerated electrons, X- and gamma rays will be described for development of advanced materials by radiation-induced grafting in nanoscale, synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles, radiation-assisted synthesis of nanogels and nanocomposites. The properties difficult to be attained by other techniques will be described by giving examples for the cases of ion track-etched membranes, fuel cell membranes, sensors, detectors, cell culture media, polymer thin films embedded with metal nanoparticles, polymer/clay nanocomposites with a prospect for the future outlook.