Three-dimensional structure of a polymer/clay nanocomposite characterized by transmission electron microtomography

Hideo Nishioka, Ken Ichi Niihara, Takeshi Kaneko, Junpei Yamanaka, Takashi Inoue, Toshio Nishi, Hiroshi Jinnai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional (3D) morphology of a polymer/clay nanocomposite, an organophilic montmorillonite (MMT) dispersed in poly(ethylene-co-vinylacetate) (EVA), was examined by transmission electron microtomography (TEMT Using this technique, individual clay layers dispersed in the EVA matrix were clearly visualized. A volume fraction of the clay layers evaluated from the 3D reconstructed image agreed well with that calculated from the weight of the MMT component in the MMT/EVA system. The individual clay layers were digitally extracted by a newly developed 3D particle algorithm. A size distribution of the clay layers was directly obtained from the 3D reconstruction. Anisotropy of each clay layer was characterized by the determination of three semi-axes of an approximating ellipsoid with the same volume. One of the representative semi-axis of the ellipsoid was used to estimate average orientation of the MMT layers in the ultra-thin section used in the TEMT experiment. Thus, the combination of quantitative TEMT and 3D structural analysis is shown to be a powerful tool to investigate a relationship between the MMT distribution and a variety of physical properties of the nanocomposites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalComposite Interfaces
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Nov 7
Externally publishedYes


  • Computerized tomography
  • Inertia tensor
  • Montmorillonite
  • Polymer clay nanocomposite
  • Three-dimensional particle analysis
  • Transmission electron microtomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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