Interparticle Potential Energies in Na-Montmorillonite Clay Suspensions*

T. R. Taylor and P. W. Schmidt
Physics Department, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
* Work supported by the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense Project “Themis.”
Present address: Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.

Abstract: The small angle X-ray scattering data obtained in an earlier investigation of a series of Na-montmorillonite clay samples containing varying concentrations of sodium metaphosphate have been used to calculate the potential energy φ(x) of the interaction between two isolated parallel clay platelets separated by a distance x. All φ(x) curves have the form expected for Na-montmorillonite. In each curve there is a potential well for a platelet separation approximately equal to the most probable separation distance determined in the earlier study. Because the depth of the potential well is of the order of 0·01 eV for all samples, the attractive forces are relatively weak. While the calculated φ(x) functions are not highly accurate, in future investigations precautions can be taken to increase the reliability of the computed potential energy functions. This preliminary study suggests that determination of φ(x) from small angle X-ray scattering data can be a useful method for quantitative study of interparticle forces in Na-montmorillonite clays.

Clays and Clay Minerals; July 1969 v. 17; no. 2; p. 77-82; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1969.0170205
© 1969, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)