Intimate Contact

Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 13b
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.13b

Composite materials commonly consist of strong or stiff particles or fibers surrounded by a matrix material. Often the best properties are observed when the contact between the reinforcing materials and the matrix are maximized, but in many cases, poor distribution and adhesion of the reinforcing material limit dispersion. Podsiadlo et al. (p. 80) used a layer-by-layer deposition technique to distribute clay platelets into a polymer matrix, and obtain nearly the idealized properties for a series of thin, transparent films. The nanometer-scale clay platelets formed ordered sheets that allow very strong hydrogen bonding with the polymer matrix, which ensured efficient load transfer between the polymer and clay.

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