Quantitative characterization of clay dispersion in polypropylene-clay nanocomposites by combined transmission electron microscopy and optical microscopy

Shaobo Xie, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Yucai Shen, Peter Hornsby, Marion McAfee, Tony McNally, Raj Patel, Hadj Benkreira, Phil Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper presents a novel method to describe the microstructure of polymer/clay nanocomposites quantitatively. Based on the image analyses of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and optical microscopy micrographs, two parameters, degree of dispersion (χ) and mean interparticle distance per unit volume of clay (λV) are proposed to describe the level of clay dispersion. The degree of dispersion gives the percentage of exfoliation, and λV is a measure of spatial separation between particles relative to clay loading. A polypropylene/clay system was chosen as an example to show the effects of processing conditions and biaxial stretching on clay dispersion using the proposed quantifiers. It provides insights into the 'real' clay dispersion using a combination of both microscopical and macroscopical aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-188
Number of pages4
JournalMaterials Letters
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Image analysis
  • Microstructure
  • Nanocomposites
  • Optical microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

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