The effects of nanoparticles on structure development in immiscible polymer blends

  • Onanong Cheerarot

Student thesis: Phd


Composites based on binary polymer blends of polystyrene (PS)/poly(ethylene-co-vinyl alcohol) (EVOH) (70/30 wt%) containing natural Montmorillonite, Na-MMTs (Nanomer PGW or Cloisite Na+) and organically modified Montmorillonite clays, OMMTs (Nanomer I.30T, Cloisite 30B or Cloisite 10A) were prepared via melt compounding. The interactions between the polymers and clays were studied using flow micro-calorimetry (FMC). Data obtained from FMC indicated that the probe molecule mimicking EVOH (butan-2-ol) interacted with the MMTs and OMMTs much more strongly than PS. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that composites based on binary blends had dispersed/continuous morphologies, in which EVOH was dispersed in a PS matrix. The size of the EVOH droplets in the PS matrix increased with increasing clay loading. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) were used to determine the extent of dispersion and location of clay in the PS/EVOH/clay composites. These techniques confirmed the formation of intercalated clay structures. As predicted by FMC, the clay platelets were selectively located in the EVOH phase, independent of the blending sequence and the type of organic modifier in the OMMT. Composites containing OMMTs showed better dispersion of platelets within the EVOH phase than those containing Na-MMTs. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC); showed the crystallisation behaviour of EVOH to depend on the clay loading and the nature of the organic modifier in the OMMT. Nanomer PGW, Cloisite Na+ and Cloisite 30B acted as weak nucleating agents. In contrast, Nanomer I.30T and Cloisite 10A significantly hindered the crystallisation of EVOH in the blends due to the restriction of chain segment mobility. Dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA) confirmed that the presence of clay increases the storage modulus of the composites compared to an unfilled blend. In addition, the improvement in storage modulus reflected the dispersion state of the different clays and their interaction with the polymers of the blend. Ternary-blend based composites were formed by adding poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile) (SAN) to the composites based on binary PS/EVOH blends. This resulted in a finer dispersion of the EVOH phase and the development of a core-shell morphology, in which SAN encapsulated and formed shells around EVOH droplets. In contrast to binary blend composites, the clay platelets were found at the interface between SAN and EVOH in the ternary blends.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorArthur Wilkinson (Supervisor)


  • polymer blends, polymer composites, clays, nanocomposites

Cite this