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Selecting Clay for Nanocomposite

This guide will focus on the key features of clay used in nanocomposites to provide the most desirable property profile. Criteria are mentioned for the selection of the correct clay for use with a particular matrix polymer. Read on to select the best clay treatment to use with specific polymers.

nanocomposite claysThe use of nanocomposites in various applications is continuing to increase. Among the applications for them currently are batteries, composites, sensors and biomedical devices.

Many different polymers have been used as the matrix material in these structures and various levels of property improvement, particularly mechanical and barrier features, have been obtained with the use of the different structures.

While much work has been done to examine the use of different polymers in nanocomposites, less effort has been focused on the optimization of the reinforcing nanofiller. In particular, with clay-based nanocomposites, work is scarce to define the best clay structure and treatment for use with a particular polymer. This means that the most preferred clay material may not have been used in the development of the nanocomposite. This translates into the fact that the maximum benefit in terms of properties has not been realized for utilization in the desired end-use application.

Clay Materials

Clay materials are a broad class of inorganic layered structures. They can occur naturally or they can also be synthesized. The majority of research that has been carried out thus far has been accomplished with montmorillonite clay.

It is a 2:1 aluminosilicate, which means that it consists of an octahedral aluminum oxide layer that is sandwiched between two tetrahedral silicon oxide layers. In the octahedral layer, the aluminum atoms are replaced by other cations such as magnesium and iron.

Since there is no ionic bond between the anionic charge in the octahedral layer and the cations that sit on top of the silicate layer, it is possible to exchange the cations with cations of similar charge to generate organically treated clays.

Organic Treatment of Clay


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