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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 760401, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/760401
Research Article

Morphological Study on Room-Temperature-Cured PMMA-Grafted Natural Rubber-Toughened Epoxy/Layered Silicate Nanocomposite

1Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43000 Selangor, Bangi, Malaysia
2Department of Material Science, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43000 Selangor, Bangi, Malaysia
3Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, M. H. Wong Building, 3610 University Street, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 2B2
4Department of Polymer Engineering, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-0301, USA
5Crop Improvement and Protection Unit, Rubber Research Institute Experimental Station, 47000 Sungai Selangor, Buloh, Malaysia

Received 6 April 2012; Revised 6 June 2012; Accepted 6 June 2012

Academic Editor: Kin Tak Lau

Copyright © 2012 N. Y. Yuhana et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

A morphological study was conducted on ternary systems containing epoxy, PMMA-grafted natural rubber, and organic chemically modified montmorillonite (Cloisite 30B). Optical microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray (EDX), and wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) analysis were used. The following four materials were prepared at room temperature: cured unmodified epoxy, cured toughened epoxy, cured unmodified epoxy/Cloisite 30B nanocomposites, and cured toughened epoxy/Cloisite 30B nanocomposites. Mixing process was performed by mechanical stirring. Poly(etheramine) was used as the curing agent. The detailed TEM images revealed co-continuous and dispersed spherical rubber in the epoxy-rubber blend, suggesting a new proposed mechanism of phase separation. High-magnification TEM analysis showed good interactions between rubber and Cloisite 30B in the ternary system. Also, it was found that rubber particles could enhance the separation of silicates layers. Both XRD and TEM analyses confirmed that the intercalation of Cloisite 30B was achieved. No distinct exfoliated silicates were observed by TEM. Aggregates of layered silicates (tactoids) were observed by SEM and EDX, in addition to TEM at low magnification. EDX analysis confirmed the presence of organic and inorganic elements in the binary and ternary epoxy systems containing Cloisite 30B.