Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Toghiani, Hossein

Committee Member

Pittman, Charles U., Jr.

Committee Member

Schulz, Kirk H.

Committee Member

Toghiani, Rebecca K.

Committee Member

Jefcoat, Irvin A.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

George, Clifford E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering


Hybrid organic-inorganic nanocomposites have received considerable attention during the last five years due to their unexpected properties. This work incorporated nanodispersed organically modified montmorillonite clay into polydicyclopentadiene resin matrices. Montmorillonite consists of 1 nm platelet sheets with a 2:1 structure, consisting of an alumina octahedral layer sandwiched between two silica tetrahedral layers. The relative weak forces between platelets allow small molecules like water, solvents and monomers as well as polymers, to enter into the interlayer spacings between the platelet sheets. In-situ polymerization of highly delaminated clay/dicyclopentadiene(DCPD) dispersions was used to prepare clay/polydicyclopentadiene (polyDCPD) nanocomposites. Highly delaminated composites were characterized using X-ray diffraction, X-ray scattering and high resolution TEM. Composites with 0.5-1 weight percent of clay had higher Tg values and flexural moduli. The flow properties of the organically-modified montmorillonite/DCPD liquid dispersions were examined using a co-rotating viscometer. The dispersions with clay concentrations higher than 0.5wt% clay in DCPD showed thixotropic flow behavior. Small angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments were performed to obtain anisotropic scattering of highly delaminated clay in DCPD due to the orientation of clay platelets and tactoids in the shear field. No anisotropic scattering was observed. The reason for this unexpected result is not yet understood. Highly delaminated organically-modified clay composites were examined using small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and ultra small angle neutron scattering (USANS). The SANS data from 0.5, 1 and 2wt% clay/polyDCPD composites with 2 different types of clay were fitted to the stacked disk model. The average number of clay layers per tactoid was predicted by fitting the experimental data to the stacked disk model. Extensive high-resolution TEM analyses were performed on the same samples to obtain the average numbers of clay layers per tactoid. Two finite element models, one for the intercalated clay/polyDCPD nanocomposite and one for the exfoliated clay/polyDCPD nanocomposite, were developed. The effects of these different dispersion geometries for seven platelets in the polyDCPD matrix on the stress distributions were examined. The exfoliated platelet model showed reduced deformations and uniform stress distributions. The highest stress concentrations were found on the platelets? surfaces and where platelets were in close proximity.