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The development of polymer/clay nanocomposites as commercial materials faces the problem of limited miscibility of inorganic hydrophilic layered silicates and organic hydrophobic polymers. Intensive studies have led to various strategies, including the use of surface-active organic compounds, chemical modification of the polymer matrix, and application of macromolecular compatibilizers that produce a desired improvement of miscibility and therefore facilitate the formation of nanostructure. The application of organically modified clays provides certain properties to nanocomposite materials superior to those of systems containing sodium montmorillonite. However, ammonium salts, which are most frequently applied, suffer from thermal degradation during the fabrication and further processing of nanocomposites. This leads to changes in the surface properties of clays resulting in alteration of nanocomposite structure and related properties and facilitates the occurrence of some unwanted side reactions and the contamination of polymeric material with the products of thermal degradation of an organic modifier, which may be responsible for enhanced thermal degradation of the polymer matrix, accelerated aging, color formation, plasticization effects, and so forth. The need to improve the thermal stability of organoclays applied in the preparation of polymeric nanocomposites has motivated the search for an organic modifier combining high thermal stability with high efficiency in facilitating dispersion of a nanofiller in a polymer matrix.
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