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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2011

1 - Polymer nanocomposites

from Part I - Thermal stability

Summary

Introduction

Inorganic fillers have conventionally been added to polymer matrices to enhance their mechanical strength and other properties, as well as to reduce the cost of the overall composites. Layered aluminosilicates, also popularly described as clays, are one such type of filler, which are responsible for a revolutionary change in polymer composite synthesis as well as for transforming polymer composites into polymer nanocomposites. Aluminosilicate particles consist of stacks of 1 nm–thick aluminosilicate layers (or platelets) in which a central octahedral aluminum sheet is fused between two tetrahedral silicon sheets. Owing to isomorphic substitutions, there is a net negative charge on the surface of the platelets that is compensated for by the adsorption of alkali or alkaline earth metal cations. Because of the presence of alkali or alkaline earth metal cations on their surfaces, the platelets are electrostatically bound to each other, causing an interlayer to form in between. The majority of the cations are present in the interlayers bound to the surfaces of the platelets, but a small number of cations are bound to the edges of the platelets. Though the use of layered aluminosilicates has been documented in some older studies, indicating their potential for substantially improving polymer properties, reports from Toyota researchers in the early nineties attracted serious attention. In these studies, polyamide nanocomposites were synthesized by in situ polymerization in the presence of clay with organic modifiers.

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