Synthesis and characterization of surfmers for the synthesis of polystyrene-clay nanocomposites
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Two cationic polymerizable surfactants (surfmers), (11-acryloyloxyundecyl)dimethyl-(2-hydroxyethyl)ammonium bromide (Ethanol surfmer) and (11-acryloyloxyundecyl)-dimethylethylammonium bromide (Ethyl surfmer) were synthesized and characterized. Characterization was done using, conductivity, Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FT-IR), electrospray mass spectrometry (ESMS), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and polarized light microscopy with a heating stage. These surfmers and the commercial surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) were used for functionalization of sodium montmorillonite (Na+-MMT), thereby forming organophilic MMT. The functionalization of MMT dispersions was carried out by ion exchange of the sodium ions in Na+-MMT by surfactants in aqueous media. Organophilic MMT clays were then dispersed in styrene and subsequently polymerized by a free radical reaction to yield polystyrene-clay nanocomposites. This in-situ intercalative polymerization process resulted in an exfoliated structure for Ethyl surfmer modified clay, a partially exfoliated structure for Ethanol surfmer modified clay and an intercalated structure for CTAB modified clay. These nanocomposite structures were confirmed by SAXS and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The nanocomposites exhibited enhanced thermal stability. All the nanocomposites exhibited an inferior storage modulus (GI) at low clay contents relative to polystyrene. At higher clay loadings there was an increase in GI which was dependent on the level of clay dispersion and the clay content. All the nanocomposites showed an increase in glass transition temperature (Tg), regardless of the amount of clay and the level of clay dispersion. There was a shift towards higher temperatures and broadening of the tan δ peak, which was in turn dependent on the amount of clay and level of clay dispersion. Molecular masses of polystyrene-clay nanocomposites were in the range 105 g/mol for bulk polymerization relative to 103 g/mol for solution polymerization as revealed by gel permeation chromatography (GPC).