Organometallic precursors for pillared clay synthesis

  • R.C. Ashcroft

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The synthetic hectorite, laponite has been used within the paper industry to produce mildly conducting paper for use in electrographic printing. The aim of this research was to modify laponite in order to improve the electrical conductivity. In a continuation of a previous investigation involving organotin intercalation of laponite, the organotin precursor (p-CH3,OC6H4)4Sn was synthesised and characterised using Mass Spectroscopy, Infrared Spectroscopy and elemental analysis. Results of intercalation with this compound and a range of organobismuth and organoantimony compounds suggested that a halide content within the precursor was necessary for improvement in conductivity to be observed.
Organometallic intercalation of a range of organotellurium compounds with laponite provided evidence that a hydrolysis reaction on the clay surface followed by the release of hydrochloric acid was an important first step if a reaction was to occur with the clay. Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy studies have shown that the acid protons underwent exchange with the interlayer sodium ions in the clay to varying degrees. Gas-liquid Chromatography and Infrared Spectroscopy revealed that the carbon-tellurium bond remained intact. Powder X-ray diffraction revealed that there had been no increase in the basal spacing.
The a.c. conductivity of the modified clays in the form of pressed discs was studied over a frequency range of 12Hz - 100kHz using two electrode systems, silver paste and stainless steel. The a.c. conductivity consists of two components, ionic and reactive. The conductivity of laponite was increased by intercalation with organometallic compounds. The most impressive increase was gained using the organotellurium precursor (p-CH3OC6H4)2TeCl2.
Conductivity investigations using the stainless steel electrode where measurements are made under pressure showed that in the case of laponite, where poor particle-particle contact exists at ambient pressure, there is a two order of magnitude increase in the measured a.c. conductivity. This significant increase was not seen in modified laponites where the particle-particle contact had already been improved upon.
Investigations of the clay surface using Scanning Electron Microscopy suggested that the improvement in particle-particle contact is the largest factor in the determination of the conductivity. The other important factor is the nature and the concentration of the interlayer cations.
A range of clays were synthesised in order to increase the concentration of sodium interlayer cations. A sol-gel method was employed to carry out these syntheses. A conductivity evaluation showed that increasing the concentration of the sodium cations within the clay led to an increase in the conductivity.
Date of AwardJun 1993
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorWilliam R. McWhinnie (Supervisor)


  • laponite
  • organotellurium
  • conductivity
  • clay synthesis
  • tetra(p-methoxyphenyl tin(IV)

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