ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2015, vol 7, 23, pp. 12399-12410
Highly dispersed isotactic polypropylene (iPP) nanocomposites were prepared by incorporating two different sized Mg–Al LDH nanoparticles with different loadings from 1 to 10 wt % using a modified solvent mixing method. Larger sized LDH nanoparticles (∼3–4 μm) were prepared from the gel form of Mg–Al LDH, and the smaller sized nanoparticles (∼50–200 nm) were prepared by sonication of as-synthesized LDH particles. Such obtained LDH nanoparticles were carefully characterized using wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD), transmission electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. WAXD and atomic force microscopy results indicate that the LDH nanoparticles were highly dispersed in the iPP matrix. The influence of LDH nanoparticles size and concentration on the thermal stability, spherulitic morphology, melting behavior, isothermal crystallization kinetics, and lamellar structure of iPP were investigated. Incorporation of low loadings of sonicated LDH particles (e.g., 1–2.5 wt %) show substantial effect on thermal stability, spherulite size, crystallinity, and crystallization half-time and lamellar morphology of iPP compared to the pure iPP and that of nanocomposites with larger LDH particles with same loadings. The better nucleation ability of iPP in the presence of sonicated LDH can be attributed to the high surface area of LDH nanoparticles along with its better dispersibility within the polymer matrix. The incorporation of LDH nanoparticles does not change the crystallization growth mechanism and crystal structure of iPP.