This work details the general structure of the clays used as a reinforcement phase in polymer nanocomposites. Clays are formed by the molecular arrangement of atomic planes described through diagrams to improve their visualization. The molecular knowledge of clays can facilitate the selection of the polymer matrix and achieve a suitable process to obtain clay-based polymer nanocomposite systems. This work highlights the development of polymer nanocomposites using the melt intercalation method. The essential work of fracture (EWF) technique has been used to characterize the fracture behavior of materials that show ductility and where complete yielding of the ligament region occurs before the crack propagation. In this sense, the EWF technique characterizes the post-yielding fracture mechanics, determining two parameters: the specific essential work of fracture (we
), related to the surface where the actual fracture process occurs, and the specific non-essential work of fracture (wp
), related to the plastic work carried out in the outer zone of the fracture zone. The EWF technique has been used successfully in nano-reinforced polymers to study the influence of different variables on fracture behavior. In this work, the fundamentals of the EWF technique are described, and some examples of its application are compiled, presenting a summary of the most relevant contributions in recent years.
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