Polymer nanocomposites from natural clay: understanding clay-PEG interactions and their effect on spacing between clay-plates
Keywords:natural clay, nanocomposites, PEG, intercalation
The interactions between clay-plates and hydrophilic polymer are investigated assuming that the polyethylene glycol (PEG) chains are grafted onto face-to-face clay-plates. Besides the usual van der Waals attractive interaction, the clay-plates experience a repulsive effective interaction, due to the excluded volume force between monomers along the grafted PEG chains. The face-to-face clay-plates then play the role of polymer brushes. The free energy (per unit area) of a clay-plate pair is the sum of these interactions, and from its expression, we determine the minimal inter-sheet distance, after intercalation, which corresponds to a critical percentage of PEG. Finally, our result is in good agreement with some recent experimental work.
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