Hypothesis: Film-forming polymer latex particles of diameter <300 nm can be prepared in the complete absence of surfactants, stabilised in part by silica nanoparticles through a Pickering type emulsion polymerisation. Control of the silica wettability through modulation of reaction pH or by reaction of the nanoparticles with a hydrophobic silane results in silica-covered latex particles. Experiments: The oil-in-water polymerisation process used methyl methacrylate (MMA) and n-butyl acrylate (BA) as co-monomers, potassium persulphate (KPS) as an initiator and a commercially available colloidal nano-silica (Ludox®-TM40). It was found that pH control before polymerisation using methacrylic acid (MAA) facilitated the formation of armoured latexes, and mechanistic features of this process are discussed. An alternative, more robust protocol was developed whereby addition of vinyltriethoxysilane (VTES) to control wettability resulted in latexes completely armoured in colloidal nano-silica. The latexes were characterised using SEM, cryo-TEM and AFM imaging techniques. The mechanism behind the adsorption was investigated through surface pressure and contact angle measurements to understand the factors that influence this irreversible adsorption. Findings: Results indicate that nanoparticle attachment (but intriguingly not latex size) is dependent on particle wettability, providing new insight into the formation of nanoparticle-armoured latexes, along with opportunities for further development of diversely functionalized inorganic/organic polymer composite particles.
- Emulsion polymerisation