Synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles containing reduced graphene oxide nanosheets stabilized by poly(ionic liquid) using miniemulsion polymerization
Polymeric nanoparticles containing reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets have been prepared by aqueous miniemulsion radical polymerization of methyl methacrylate (MMA) utilizing poly(ionic liquid) (PIL) as stabilizer to effectively disperse the rGO nanosheets in the monomer phase. The PIL that gave the best results in terms of rGO dispersibility was a block copolymer of the ionic liquid monomer 1-(2-methacryloyloxyethyl)-3-butylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)amide ([Mbim][TFSA]) and MMA, the concept being that the MMA units impart solubility in the MMA monomer droplets whereas the IL units act as adsorption sites for rGO. The rGO dispersibility in vinyl monomer was demonstrated to be superior using the above PIL block copolymer compared to the corresponding statistical copolymer or PIL homopolymer. Overall, the approach developed demonstrates how PILs can be employed to conveniently switch (turn ON/OFF) the dispersibility of PIL/rGO via anion exchange reactions, which can be an efficient strategy for synthesis of polymer/rGO nanocomposite materials.