This study reports synthesis and characterization of poly(MMA-co-BA)/Cloisite 30B (organo-modified montmorillonite clay) nanocomposites by ultrasound-assisted in-situ emulsion polymerization. Copolymers have been synthesized with MMA:BA monomer ratio of 4:1, and varying clay loading (1–5 wt% monomer). The poly(MMA-co-BA)/Cloisite 30B nanocomposites have been characterized for their thermal and mechanical properties. Ultrasonically synthesized nanocomposites have been revealed to possess higher thermal degradation resistance and mechanical strength than the nanocomposites synthesized using conventional techniques. These properties, however, show an optimum (or maxima) with clay loading. The maximum values of thermal and mechanical properties of the nanocomposites with optimum clay loading are as follows. Thermal degradation temperatures: T10% = 320 °C (4 wt%), T50 = 373 °C (4 wt%), maximum degradation temperature = 384 °C (4 wt%); glass transition temperature = 64.8 °C (4 wt%); tensile strength = 20 MPa (2 wt%), Young’s modulus = 1.31 GPa (2 wt%), Percentage elongation = 17.5% (1 wt%). Enhanced properties of poly(MMA-co-BA)/Cloisite 30B nanocomposites are attributed to effective exfoliation and dispersion of clay nanoparticles in copolymer matrix due to intense micro-convection induced by ultrasound and cavitation. Clay platelets help in effective heat absorption with maximum surface interaction/adhesion that results in increased thermal resistivity of nanocomposites. Hindered motion of the copolymer chains due to clay platelets results in enhancement of tensile strength and Young’s modulus of nanocomposite. Rheological (liquid) study of the nanocomposites reveals that nanocomposites have higher yield stress and infinite shear viscosity than neat copolymer. Nonetheless, nanocomposites still display shear thinning behavior – which is typical of the neat copolymer.

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Volume 36, May 2017, Pages 212–225