Studies of stabilization of non-aqueous polymer dispersions with diblock copolymers
A diblock copolymer of Poly (Styrene-b- [ethylene-co-propylene]) has been used as a stabilizer in non-aqueous dispersion polymerizations of methyl methacrylate and vinyl acetate in n-heptane. The particles thus produced were stabilized by well defined surface layers of ethylene-propylene copolymer chains. The dependence of the particle size on the stabilizer, monomer and initiator concentrations was studied. Both seeded and one-shot polymerization techniques were investigated. Polymer particles were characterized by transmission electron microscopy to determine particle shape and size. The long term stability of both types of polymer particles suggests that the anchoring efficiency in both systems was good. Rheological studies confirmed the sphericity of the particles and showed the particles to be non-flocculated under shear. The thickness of the surface layer was determined from viscosity studies of the dispersions at 298, 308 and 318K. Solution viscosities dispersions at of a narrow distribution standard of ethylene-propylene copolymer in n-heptane and in a binary liquid mixture of n-heptane and n-propanol (79:21, v/v) at 298, 308 and 318K were obtained in order to estimate the root-mean-square end-to-end distance of free ethylene-propylene copolymer chains. The thickness of the surface layer was observed to increase on raising the temperature and to decrease on changing the solvency of the dispersion medium from a good solvent to almost a theta solvent for the ethylene-propylene copolymer chains. The dimensions of the surface layer were slightly larger than the dimensions of the free ethylene-propylene copolymer chains in solution suggesting that long ethylene-propylene chains terminally anchored at the interface are only slightly extended over random coil dimensions. Calculations of the mean separation distance between adjacent stabilizing ethylene-propylene copolymer chains indicated close-packing of ethylene-propylene copolymer chains at the particle-liquid interface which may contribute to the slight extension of the ethylene-propylene copolymer chain conformation. The theta-conditions for ethylene-propylene copolymer in a mixture of n-heptane and n-propanol were determined using samples obtained by hydrogenating polyisoprene standards. The solvency of the dispersion medium for the stabilizing ethylene-propylene copolymer chain on the polymer particles was reduced until flocculation occurred, and this was achieved by cooling the dispersion system to find the critical flocculation temperature or by adding a non-solvent (n-propanol) for the ethylene-propylene copolymer chains at constant temperature to find the critical flocculation volume. The polymer dispersions just retained stability at theta conditions and started to lose stability when the dispersion medium was changed to slightly worse than a theta system for the ethylene-propylene chains. The close correspondence of the flocculation conditions to the theta conditions for free ethylene-propylene copolymer chains confirms that the steric stabilization mechanism is operative for these dispersions.