MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Polymer Nanocomposites: Status and Opportunities

Richard A. Vaia and Emmanuel P. Giannelis

Reinforcement of polymers with a second phase, whether inorganic or organic, to produce a polymer composite is common in the production of modern plastics. Polymer nanocomposites (PNCs) represent a radical alternative to these conventional polymer composites.

Richard A. Vaia is currently a senior materials scientist with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Additionally, he is Research Coordinator for Nanotechnology in the Air Force's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/ML) and Direction Leader for Polymeric Photonics in the polymer coretechnology area. Vaia is an authority on polymer–inorganic nanocomposites, and his research group focuses on understanding processing–structure– property relationships of polymer–inorganic nanostructured systems for use in space and propulsion technologies, and on the fabrication of complex core-shell nanostructures and the development of techniques to achieve threedimensional control of particle arrangement on the meso-, micro-, and millimeter scales for photonic systems.

Vaia received a PhD degree from Cornell University in 1995, following MS and BS degrees in materials science from Cornell. He currently holds three patents, has edited a book, and has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles in the areas of nanomaterials and nanotechnology.

Vaia can be reached by e-mail at

Emmanuel P. Giannelis is a professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University and is a member of the fields of chemical engineering, chemistry, and chemical biology. His research interests include integrating experiments with computer simulations in an effort to relate structure with properties in polymer nanocomposites.

He obtained his BS (1980) and PhD (1985) degrees in chemistry from the University of Athens, Greece, and Michigan State University, respectively. Giannelis is a member of several professional organizations and serves on the editorial boards of Macromolecules and Chemistry of Materials.

Giannelis can be reached by e-mail at and URL