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Keywords:

  • gas barrier;
  • gas transport model;
  • layer aggregates;
  • montmorillonite;
  • morphology;
  • nanocomposites;
  • permeability;
  • polystyrene

Abstract

Three polystyrene (PS)/clay hybrid systems have been prepared via in situ polymerization of styrene in the presence of unmodified sodium montmorillonite (Na-MMT) clay, MMT modified with zwitterionic cationic surfactant octadecyldimethyl betaine (C18DMB) and MMT modified with polymerizable cationic surfactant vinylbenzyldimethyldodecylammonium chloride (VDAC). X-ray diffraction and TEM were used to probe mineral layer organization and to expose the morphology of these systems. The PS/Na-MMT composite was found to exhibit a conventional composite structure consisting of unintercalated micro and nanoclay particles homogeneously dispersed in the PS matrix. The PS/C18DMB-MMT system exhibited an intercalated layered silicate nanocomposite structure consisting of intercalated tactoids dispersed in the PS matrix. Finally, the PS/VDAC-MMT system exhibited features of both intercalated and exfoliated nanocomposites. Systematic statistical analysis of aggregate orientation, characteristic width, length, aspect ratio, and number of layers using multiple TEM micrographs enabled the development of representative morphological models for each of the nanocomposite structures. Oxygen barrier properties of all three PS/clay hybrid systems were measured as a function of mineral composition and analyzed in terms of traditional Nielsen and Cussler approaches. A modification of the Nielsen model has been proposed, which considers the effect of layer aggregation (layer stacking) on gas barrier. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 45: 1733–1753, 2007