Nanocomposites are prepared by dispersing a Nanomer® nanoclay into a host polymer, generally at less than 5wt% levels. This process is also termed exfoliation. When a nanoclay is substantially dispersed it is said to be exfoliated. Exfoliation is facilitated by surface compatibilization chemistry, which expands the nanoclay platelets to the point where individual platelets can be separated from another by mechanical shear or heat of polymerization. Nanocomposites can be created using both thermoplastic and thermoset polymers, and the specific compatibilization chemistries designed and employed are necessarily a function of the host polymer's unique chemical and physical characteristics. In some cases, the final nanocomposite will be prepared in the reactor during the polymerization stage. For other polymer systems, processes have been developed to incorporate Nanomer nanoclays into a hot-melt compounding operation.
Nanomer particles protruding from a plasma-etched polymer matrix
In general, nanocomposites exhibit gains in barrier, flame resistance, structural, and thermal properties yet without significant loss in impact or clarity. Because of the nanometer-sized dimensions of the individual platelets in one direction, exfoliated Nanomer nanoclays are transparent in most polymer systems. However, with surface dimensions extending to 1 micron, the tightly bound structure in a polymer matrix is impermeable to gases and liquids, and offers superior barrier properties over the neat polymer. Nanocomposites also demonstrate enhanced fire resistant properties and are finding increasing use in engineering plastics.
Nanomer nanoclays provide plastics product development teams with exciting new polymer enhancement and modification options. With the proper choice of compatibilizing chemistries, the nanometer-sized clay platelets interact with polymers in unique ways. Application possibilities for packaging include food and non-food films and rigid containers. In the engineering plastics arena, a host of automotive and industrial components can be considered, making use of lightweight, impact, scratch-resistant, and higher heat distortion performance characteristics.
Nanoclay Structures Overview