Studies on the mechanism by which the formation of nanocomposites enhance thermal stability
Chemistry of Materials
Polystyrene−clay and polystyrene−graphite nanocomposites have been prepared and used to explore the process by which the presence of clay or graphite in a nanocomposite enhances the thermal stability of polymers. This study has been designed to determine if the presence of paramagnetic iron in the matrix can result in radical trapping and thus enhance thermal stability. Nanocomposites were prepared by bulk polymerization using both iron-containing and iron-depleted clays and graphites, and they were characterized by X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, and cone calorimetry. The presence of structural iron, rather than that present as an impurity, significantly increases the onset temperature of thermal degradation in polymer−clay nanocomposites. Intercalated nanocomposites show an iron effect, but this is less important for exfoliated systems. Polymer−graphite nanocomposites show no difference between iron-free and iron-containing nanocomposites, presumably because the iron is not nanodispersed in the graphite.