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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 291248, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/291248
Research Article

Mechanical, Thermal, and Microstructural Analysis of Polyvinyl Alcohol/Montmorillonite Nanocomposites

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
2Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, US Army Engineer Research & Development Center, Vicksburg, MS 39180, USA
3Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, PR 00680, USA
4Central Analytical Facility, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA

Received 2 January 2015; Accepted 18 March 2015

Academic Editor: Sheng-Rui Jian

Copyright © 2015 P. G. Allison 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

Structural biomaterials such as nacre, bone, and fish scales possess unique structures that have hierarchical spatial configurations, which provide excellent mechanical properties when compared to their individual constituents. These observations have been the motivation for designing and characterizing bioinspired materials with high strength, high stiffness, and corrosion-resistant properties while at the same time being environmentally friendly. It has been demonstrated that polymer-clay nanocomposites can simulate the behavior of nacreous biomaterials such as abalone shell. Mechanical, thermal, and microstructural analyses characterized solution-cast polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)/montmorillonite (MMT) nanocomposite properties over compositions ranging from the neat polymer to 25% volume fraction of MMT nanoclay. Uniaxial tensile experiments were performed at displacement rates of 1 mm/min and 50 mm/min. Strength values are similar to those shown by nacre and represent a homogeneous dispersion of the MMT in the polymer matrix. Strength-to-weight ratios are similar to many structural metals.