A newly developed initiation system, activators regenerated by electron transfer (ARGET), was employed to synthesize polystyrene-organoclay nanocomposites via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). ARGET ATRP was applied since it is carried out at significantly low concentrations of the catalyst and environmentally acceptable reducing agents. Conversion and molecular weight evaluations were performed using gravimetry and size exclusion chromatography (SEC), respectively. According to the findings, addition of clay content resulted in a decrease in conversion and molecular weight of nanocomposites. However, an increase of polydispersity index is observed by increasing nanoclay loading. The living nature of the polymerization is revealed by 1H NMR spectroscopy and extracted data from the SEC traces. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis shows that organoclay layers are disordered and delaminated in the polymer matrix and exfoliated morphology is obtained. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) shows that thermal stability of the nanocomposites is higher than the neat polystyrene. A decrease in glass transition temperature of the samples by increasing organoclay content is observed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) reveals that clay layers are partially exfoliated in the polymer matrix containing 2 wt% of organomodified montmorillonite (PSON 2) and a dispersion of partially exfoliated clay stacks is formed.
Journal of Polymer Engineering publishes reviews, original basic and applied research contributions as well as recent technological developments in polymer engineering. Polymer engineering is a strongly interdisciplinary field and papers published by the journal may span areas such as polymer physics, polymer processing and engineering of polymer-based materials and their applications.