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Polymer/clay nanocomposites: The catalytic effect of clay

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Various clay minerals have been used as the catalysts in organic synthesis for decades. They catalyse various organic reactions either in the pristine form, or modified by protonation with acids, exchange reactions with inorganic cations (Cr3+, Al3+, Cr3+, Cu2+…) organic cations (N+‑R), and by attaching various initiator/catalyst species onto their surface. The catalytic effect of clay minerals in the field of polymer synthesis was also observed, but it was not as explored as in the organic synthesis. However, this topic became interesting due to the progress in the development of polymer/clay nano composites.

The polymer/clay nanocomposites are usually prepared by one of three methods, solution intercalation, melt intercalation and in situ intercalative polymerization. The first step of all those methods is the preparation of organically modified clay. In the second step, a nanocomposite is formed by mixing the polymer with modified clay using one of the above-mentioned methods.

When in situ intercalative polymerization was used to prepare nanocomposites, various catalytic effects have been observed, which have been a consequence of clay as well as a modifier. A short review of the catalytic effects of clay minerals will be presented with the emphasis on radical polymerization of methyl methacrylate and a step-growth polymerization of the phenolic resin.

This talk is part of the Chemistry Departmental-wide lectures series.

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