Effect of the addition of salt to Pickering emulsion polymerizations using polymeric nanogels as stabilizers†
Nanogels made from crosslinked block copolymer micelles are used as stabilizers in the Pickering emulsion polymerization of styrene. The effect of the addition of salt, i.e. NaCl, on the emulsion polymerization is studied. It is shown that an increase in ionic strength of the dispersing medium in these polymerizations led to the formation of latexes of larger diameters. Along with an increase in size, the morphology of these polymer colloids changed from Janus to patchy with an increase in number of nanogels adsorbed on the polymer surface, as a function of the salt concentration in water. In particular, at the highest tested ionic strength, ca. 25 mM, fully armored polymeric particles surrounded by a dense layer of adsorbed stabilizing nanogels were formed. Kinetic studies carried out at varying NaCl concentrations suggested that particle formation in the reaction followed a combination of a coagulative nucleation mechanism, characterized by a clustering process of Janus precursors to form bigger aggregates, and droplet nucleation. Preliminary film formation studies on latexes made with n-butyl acrylate as a comonomer indicated the potential of this technique for the production of coherent polymer films which included a substructure of functional nanogels.