Brittle-ductile transitions and the toughening mechanism in paraffin/organo-clay nanocomposites

Jinfeng Wang, Steven J. Severtson, Phillip H. Geil

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14 Scopus citations


Tensile properties for paraffin wax and a nanocomposite produced with 2 wt.% Cloisite® 20A were measured within the temperature range of 10 to 30 °C. Young's modulus and maximum stress are significantly greater at 10 °C for the nanocomposite than those measured for the pure wax. Values for both materials decrease with increasing temperature and converge to where little difference exists as the wax enters a series of plastic crystalline states. Large enhancements in ductility for these nanocomposites reported previously are shown to be a consequence of a decrease in their brittle-ductile transition temperatures. Reduced crystallite size was observed via polarized optical microscopy for the nanocomposite and X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy demonstrate preferred alignments of wax lamellae and organo-clay platelets under strain. Results indicate that a combination of proximity to mesophases and influence of organo-clay on wax morphology and on the fracture mechanism account for the observed high ductility under ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-180
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 15 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is financially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (Project DE-FC36-04GO14309). The authors would like to thank Mark Calhoun for help in preparing and tensile testing of composite samples.


  • Brittle-ductile transition
  • Nanocomposite
  • Paraffin wax
  • Preferred orientation
  • Toughening mechanism


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