Multi-component polymer films are important for numerous technological applications such as paint systems, adhesives, photographic material, and index-matched optical coatings. Unfortunately, different polymer components are often incompatible so they will phase-separate and create large agglomerations of like phases, which has adverse effects on the structural integrity of thin films. Stabilizing polymer blends usually requires the addition of a third component which is often an expensive emulsifying agent such as a block copolymer. Recent studies have shown the emulsifying benefits of less expensive clay additives in oil-water mixtures  but the effect on stabilizing polymer blends is not entirely understood.
We are systematically examining the effects of clay additives on polymer thin film blends using Near Edge Xray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS) Microscopy. We present results from films composed of a 50/50 weight percent blend of polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) (Mw=62k, 25k, respectively) spun cast from toluene onto Si3N4 membranes.