The use of chemical actinometry for the evaluation of the light absorption efficiency in scattering photopolymerizable miniemulsions†
Oil-in-water miniemulsions containing a mixture of monomers as the dispersed organic phase have been shown recently to be promising media for the development of photoinitiated polymerization processes. Albeit a crucial factor for a successful application, the efficiency of light absorption by the photoinitiator in these highly scattering systems is difficult to evaluate. In this work, a well-characterized water insoluble chemical actinometer (DFIS) replaced the oil-soluble photoinitiator, and was used as a probe and a model for UV light absorption in miniemulsions of variable droplet sizes and organic phase compositions (i.e. at different levels of scattered light). In the first step, the photon flux absorbed by the actinometer was determined in model miniemulsions based on an inert solvent (ethyl acetate), at a low oil phase content (3.0–6.0 wt%). For these low to moderately scattering systems, the photon flux absorbed by the actinometer in the miniemulsions was comparable to that in a homogeneous solution of ethyl acetate. In the second step, the absorbed photon flux was investigated in photopolymerizable miniemulsions (a mixture of acrylate monomers as oil phase). Surprisingly, in spite of much higher scattering coefficients than those found for ethyl acetate based miniemulsions of otherwise the same composition, the photon flux absorbed by the actinometer in photopolymerizable miniemulsions showed only a small decreasing trend. Such a result may be considered favorable for the further development of applications of photopolymerizations in miniemulsions.