Orientation of montmorillonite clay in dicyclopentadiene/organically modified clay dispersions and nanocomposites



Highly delaminated dispersions of the organically modified clay I-28 (Nanocor, Inc.) in liquid dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) were prepared. In situ ring-opening metathesis polymerization of I-28/DCPD nanodispersions generated I-28/poly(DCPD) nanocomposites. When clay/DCPD dispersions were cured under shear, alignment of clay platelets, tactoids, and small particles was captured. This orientation was confirmed by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. The Herman's orientation parameters were calculated for the oriented nanocomposites. Viscosities of these liquid nanodispersions exhibited thixotropic flow behavior, prior to curing. The time-dependent viscosity effects became more pronounced with an increase in delamination. Initial viscosities increased with progressive clay platelet generation during delamination and nanodispersion within the liquid monomer. Viscosity can be used to follow clay exfoliation/delamination. Etching the surface of a 2 wt % I-28 clay/poly(DCPD) nanocomposite with oxygen plasma eroded the matrix, exposing clay tactoids protruding from the surface. These surfaces were examined by SEM and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 102: 2743–2751, 2006