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Degradation induced by nanostructural evolution of polylactide/clay nanocomposites in the isothermal cold crystallization process

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BACKGROUND: The aim of the work presented was to study the nanostructural evolution of clay tactoids during the isothermal cold crystallization of polylactide/clay nanocomposites (PLACNs). An interesting degradation behavior of the polylactide (PLA) matrix, however, was observed simultaneously with nanostructural evolution. The possible mechanisms of degradation and structural evolution are discussed.

RESULTS: The evolution of the nanostructure and the degradation were studied online or offline using parallel plate rheometry, X‐ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography and thermogravimetric analysis. The results showed that the intercalation level of the clay tactoids further increased during cold crystallization, leading to simultaneous degradation of the PLA matrix, which was further confirmed by the marked change of small‐ and large‐amplitude oscillatory shear flow behavior of the PLACNs before and after cold crystallization.

CONCLUSION: The increase of the intercalation level of the tactoids is due to the diffuse in movement of the PLA chain segments during cold crystallization. In this case, chain‐end scission occurs more easily, especially for those PLA chains around the loose edge and defect site of the tactoids during crystallization, which results in a simultaneous degradation of the PLA matrix. Hence, both the linear and nonlinear dynamic viscoelastic properties show a remarkable change after cold crystallization. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: clay; cold crystallization; degradation; intercalation; nanocomposites; polylactide

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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