Fabrication of γ-MPS-Modified HNT–PMMA Nanocomposites by Ultrasound-Assisted Miniemulsion Polymerization
Halloysite nanotubes (HNTs) were modified with γ-methacryloxypropyltrimethoxysilane (γ-MPS) to improve their interaction with the polymer, and the modified HNTs (MHNTs) were subsequently used for the synthesis of MHNT–polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) nanocomposites by miniemulsion polymerization assisted by ultrasound. Reduced agglomeration of HNTs due to modification with γ-MPS was evident from scanning electron microscopy analysis. Modification of HNTs and exfoliation of MHNTs in the polymer nanocomposite were confirmed by the presence of their respective characteristic peaks in Fourier-transform infrared spectra and x-ray diffraction patterns. Transmission electron microscopic analysis showed that the surface of the MHNTs differed significantly from that of unmodified HNTs. MHNT–PMMA nanocomposite exhibited significantly higher glass-transition temperature (Tg) compared with neat PMMA or unmodified HNT–PMMA nanocomposite. Hence, such modification of HNTs along with miniemulsion polymerization assisted by ultrasound is a promising approach to achieve better dispersion of HNTs in the polymer and to obtain nanocomposites with enhanced properties.