Super Oxygen and Improved Water Vapor Barrier of Polypropylene Film with Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Nanocoatings

Biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) is widely used in packaging. Although its orientation increases mechanical strength and clarity, BOPP suffers from a high oxygen transmission rate (OTR). Multilayer thin films are deposited from water using layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly. Polyethylenimine (PEI) is combined with either poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) or vermiculite (VMT) clay to impart high oxygen barrier. A 30-bilayer PEI/VMT nanocoating (226 nm thick) improves the OTR of 17.8 μm thick BOPP by more than 30X, rivaling most inorganic coatings. PEI/PAA multilayers achieve comparable barrier with only 12 bilayers due to greater thickness, but these films exhibit increased oxygen permeability at high humidity. The PEI/VMT coatings actually exhibit improved oxygen barrier at high humidity (and also improve moisture barrier by more than 40%). This high barrier BOPP meets the criteria for sensitive food and some electronics packaging applications. Additionally, this water-based coating technology is cost effective and provides an opportunity to produce high barrier polypropylene film on an industrial scale.

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Song, Y; Tzeng, P; and Grunlan, JC; Macromol. Rapid Commun., 2016, 37, 963–968.
Published in Macromolecular Rapid Communications 2016