Shear-induced orientation in polymer/clay dispersions via in situ X-ray scattering

Laura M.C. Dykes, John M. Torkelson, Wesley R. Burghardt*, Ramananan Krishnamoorti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We report in situ X-ray scattering measurements of shear-induced orientation in polymer-clay dispersions. Two different organically modified clays, montmorillonite and fluorohectorite, are dispersed in a low molecular weight, viscous polymer melt, facilitating studies at room temperature. Orientation measurements are performed in the flow-gradient plane, allowing characterization of both the average degree and direction of particle orientation during shear. In all cases, the orientation angle is finite, indicating systematic misalignment of the particle long axes relative to the flow direction. In concentrated fluorohectorite and montmorillonite dispersions, anisotropy and orientation angle are roughly independent of shear rate, and negligible relaxation is observed upon flow cessation. Conversely, a lower concentration montmorillonite sample exhibits orientation that is more responsive to shear flow, and partially relaxes upon flow cessation. In this sample, the orientation behavior is interpreted in light of rotational diffusion of the clay particles. This same sample exhibits oscillatory structural dynamics upon shear flow reversal, attributed to tumbling rotations of the disk-like clay particles in shear. Large-amplitude oscillatory shear is similarly demonstrated to be capable of inducing significant particle orientation; the degree of orientation is principally determined by the applied strain amplitude. Complementary measurements of rheological properties exhibit many characteristics commonly reported in polymer-clay nanocomposites. Based on the structural measurements reported here, the rheological phenomena are interpreted to arise from a combination of flow-induced particle orientation and rate- and time-dependent destruction or reformation of particle networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4916-4927
Number of pages12
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Polymer-clay nanocomposites
  • Rheology
  • X-ray scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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