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Polyglycols at Clay Surfaces

Nick Green

Nick Green (previous student, left the group in 1997)

System under investigation

Aqueous, dilute dispersions of clay colloids in the presence of water-soluble nonionic polymers.

Why study this system?

The addition of polymers to clay particles is a technically important and extremely powerful method of controlling the stability of clay dispersions. The adsorption of non-ionic polymers on clays has not been studied to the same degree as polyelectrolytes. The addition of non-ionic polymers to a concentrated clay suspension causes a dramatic reduction to the swelling of the clay in the presence of water. However, this mechanism is not fully understood.

Aim of the project

Techniques Utilised

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Studies

The technique of 1H NMR solvent relaxation [1] has been used to probe the effect of the adsorption of poly(ethylene glycol) at the clay-water interface. Montmorillonite and laponite surfaces have been studied and the nature of the surface has been shown to have a considerable effect on the nature of the adsorption.

Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Investigations

SANS has been used to study the conformation of the adsorbed poly(ethylene glycol) layer on discrete laponite particles [2]. The polymer adopts a very flat conformation on the clay surface.

  1. G.van der Beek, M.A.Cohen Stuart, T.Cosgrove, Langmuir, 1991, 7, 327
  2. N.Green, T.Cosgrove, Report on Experiment RB 7262 at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, Didcot, England


This project is funded by the EPSRC and Schlumberger Cambridge Research