Use of acrylic based surfmers for the preparation of exfoliated polystyrene-clay nanocomposites
Two polymerizable cationic surfactants, (11-acryloyloxyundecyl)dimethyl(2-hydroxyethyl)ammonium bromide (hydroxyethyl surfmer) and (11-acryloyloxyundecyl)dimethylethylammonium bromide (ethyl surfmer), were used for the modification of montmorillonite (MMT) clay. The modification of MMT dispersions was carried out by ion exchange of the sodium ions in Na+-MMT by surfactants in aqueous media. Modified MMT clays were then dispersed in styrene and subsequently polymerized in bulk by a free-radical polymerization reaction to yield polystyrene-clay nanocomposites. An exfoliated structure was obtained using the ethyl surfmer-modified clay, whereas a mixed exfoliated/intercalated structure was obtained using the hydroxyethyl surfmer-modified clay. Nanocomposite structures were confirmed by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The nanocomposites exhibited enhanced thermal stability and an increase in glass transition temperature, relative to neat polystyrene. The nanocomposites also exhibited enhanced mechanical properties, which were dependent on the clay loading. Intercalated polystyrene-clay nanocomposites were obtained using the non-polymerizable surfactant-modified clay (cetyltrimethylammonium bromide). Nanocomposites made from mixtures of surfmer-modified and CTAB-modified clays were also prepared, showing intermediate properties. However, when the nanocomposites were prepared in solution only intercalated morphologies were obtained. This was attributed to the competition between the solvent molecules and monomer in penetrating into clay galleries. These nanocomposites also exhibited enhanced thermal stability relative to the virgin polystyrene prepared by the same method. Similar temperatures of degradation (at 50% decomposition) were found for these nanocomposites relative to those prepared by bulk polymerization. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.