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Photooxidative Degradation and Conformational Changes in Syndiotactic Polypropylene/Clay Nanocomposites

Volume 60, Number 11 (Nov. 2006) Page 1285-1292

Kandilioti, Georgia; Elenis, Athanasios; Macchiarola, Katherine A.; Gregoriou, Vasilis G.

Syndiotactic polypropylene nanocomposites based on layered silicates in various proportions were subjected to prolonged (246 h) ultraviolet (UV)-c irradiation. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy was used in order to investigate the molecular alterations of the polymeric matrix during the UV exposure relative to the concentration of nanoclay. It was found that a significant increase of the helical conformation upon the irradiation took place as a result of scissions of the polymeric chains. In addition, a simultaneous increase in the crystallinity was verified by X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements. Furthermore, a variety of photooxidation products were detected, among them carboxylic acids, ketones, γ-lactones, and esters. We report in this paper the impact of the clay on the degradation mechanism of syndiotactic polypropylene mostly by the production of additional free radicals. Therefore, the relative intensities of the produced photooxidative species are affected drastically as a function of the concentration of the layered silicate present. Finally, an interaction of the carbonyl groups formed in the polymer upon irradiation with the polar groups of the layered silicates was confirmed both from infrared and UV-visible spectroscopic studies.