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Polymer/clay nanocomposites exhibit remarkable improvement in material properties relative to unfilled polymers or conventional composites. These improvements can include increased tensile modulus, mechanical strength, and heat resistance and reduced gas permeability and flammability. There are various methods of preparing polymer/clay nanocomposites: (i) in situ polymerization, (ii) solution intercalation, (iii) melt intercalation, and (iv) in situ template synthesis.
Nanoclays are difficult to disperse in polymer matrices, because of the strong attractive forces among the clay platelets and the commonly hydrophobic nature of polymers. Thus, it is necessary to modify pristine nanoclays in order to (i) render them compatible with most polymers and (ii) enlarge the basal spacing of clay to favor polymer intercalation. Several approaches are used to modify clays and clay minerals.
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