Quantification of organoclay dispersion and lamellar morphology in poly(propylene)–clay nanocomposites with small angle X-ray scattering
ABDUL RASHEED, AS
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Intensity profiles of small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) curves were analyzed to simultaneously gain quantitative information on nanoclay dispersion as well as lamellar ordering in polypropylene–clay nanocomposites. Different types of PP nanocomposites prepared with PP homopolymer (HPP), random propylene–ethylene copolymer (RCP) and a high impact polypropylene–ethylene propylene rubber (ICP) were analyzed. Various one-dimensional models for stacked structures were applied on Lorentz corrected SAXS spectra to derive long period, thicknesses of alternating high and low electron density layers and their distributions, and the number of stacks for both nanoclay and PP lamellae. We applied a mixed thickness distribution model comprising combined Gaussian and exponential for a simple stack of finite thickness, which was found to explain the experimental data better for both nanoclay tactoids and lamellar stacks, compared to simple Gaussian and exponential thickness distributions. Long period X and number of stacks N were derived as important parameters signifying changes in levels of nanoclay exfoliation in PP. Among the three types of polypropylenes studied, better nanoclay exfoliation was obtained for the high impact ICP grade compared to HPP and RCP. Complete exfoliation of nanoclay was achieved in ICP matrix, employing a masterbatch processing route. Moreover, role of nanoclay as a γ nucleating agent was evident from small and wide angle X-ray analyses, and was seen strongly in RCP. Changes in lamellar structure of PP as a result of nanoclay incorporation, double population consisting of both α and γ polytypes in the nanocomposites from that of a primarily α population in neat polymer matrices, were also analyzed in detail with the mixed thickness distribution model, thereby demonstrating its usefulness.
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