Timothy D. Fornes & Don
Paul talk with ScienceWatch.com and answer a
few questions about this month's Emerging Research Front in
the field of Materials Science.
Article: Effect of organoclay structure on nylon 6
nanocomposite morphology and properties
TD;Yoon, PJ;Hunter, DL;Keskkula,
Journal: POLYMER, 43 (22): 5915-5933 OCT 2002
Addresses: Univ Texas, Dept Chem Engn, Texas Mat Inst,
Austin, TX 78712 USA.
Univ Texas, Dept Chem Engn, Texas Mat Inst, Austin, TX
So Clay Prod, Gonzales, TX 78629 USA.
(addresses may have been truncated.)
Why do you think your paper is highly
The paper is highly cited for several possible reasons. One, it was one of
the first of its kind. Two, we took a very organized yet comprehensive
approach to understanding how the role of surfactant structure on the
nanoclay affected the clay's dispersion in nylon 6. Third, the paper has
also had broad implications both in academia and industry. Lastly, we tried
to write this paper in a clear and concise manner so that it would be easy
for readers to understand the results with a minimum of effort.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
It primarily deals with the synthesis of
knowledge. Specifically, the chemical relationships between the
nanofiller and the matrix needed to maximum dispersion and mechanical
property enhancement were uncovered.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
It represents one of the first pieces of experimental work that describes
how to tailor the chemistry of solid, nano-additives in order to get the
maximum level of additive dispersion and property improvements in nylons.
How did you become involved in this research and were
any particular problems encountered along the way?
Our initial involvement in the field of nanocomposites came through our
curiosity and excitement about how nanometer-sized fillers could
dramatically affect the properties of polymers with minimal filler
Although proof-of-concept studies had been conducted at the time, few, if
any, reports were available that described the key relationships between
nanofiller structure and nanocomposite properties, especially in
thermoplastic matrices. It was our intent, as with this publication, to
gain a thorough understanding of the factors that govern nanoclay
dispersion and subsequent property enhancements seen in polyamides, like
has also had broad implications
both in academia and
There were no major problems encountered during the course of the work and
we were very fortunate to have had a good working relationship with
Southern Clay Products, Inc. (SCP), one of the world's leading suppliers of
commercial nanoclay materials. Our ability to work with SCP in order to
design and evaluate experimental nanoclay made for an effective and
In a related vein, one of the most challenging aspects of this work was its
experimental design and execution. Given the larger number of clay
chemistries desired to be examined and the corresponding nanocomposites to
be characterized, we had to work hard to gain a maximum amount of
information within a relatively short period of time.
Where do you foresee your research leading in the
I foresee building on the knowledge gained in this and related work and
applying this knowledge in order to create novel, commercially relevant
nanocomposites and applications thereof.
Timothy D. Fornes, Ph.D.
Chemical R&D - Research Team Leader
Cary, NC, USA
Donald R. Paul, Ph.D.
Ernest Cockrell, Sr. Chair in Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
Texas Materials Institute
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX, USA Web