A quantitative characterization of the structure of polymer/layered silicate nanocomposites is proposed. The methodology, based on TEM image analysis was applied to the quantitative characterization of PA6/montmorillonite nanocomposites produced by melt-compounding. The influence of the organic modification of the montmorillonite (MMT) on the quality of the dispersion of the clay particles was evaluated quantitatively. The efficiency of a specially designed extruder system was evaluated and compared to a reference nanocomposite produced by in-situ polymerization. Surface density, specific area, extent of exfoliation, particle dimensions, and aspect ratio of the dispersed particles were estimated and correlated with mechanical properties. INTRODUCTION The production of polyamide-6/clay (or layered silicate) nanocomposites has been successfully achieved by Usuki et al. (1993) and Kojima et al. (1993), using in-situ polymerization. Polymer/layered silicate nanocomposites (PLSN) are commercially attractive, because they exhibit a broad range of property enhancements, such as high stiffness and strength, outstanding barrier properties, improved thermal stability or reduced flammability. According to Alexandre and Dubois (2000) and LeBaron et al. ' Corresponding author Vol. 26, Nos. 8-9, 2006 (1999), these property enhancements are achieved using a minor loading of clay, typically around 5wt%, which renders PLSN easy to process, recyclable and inexpensive. The improved
Journal of Polymer Engineering – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 1, 2006
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