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Analysis of butyl acrylate diffusion in a glassy polystyrene matrix to predict gradient structure



To be able to control composition structure in gradient polymers prepared by sequential polymerization, diffusion phenomena has to be considered, particularly for the first 100% weight increment in a glassy polymer matrix. With that purpose, an analytical model to predict diffusion in that region has been developed for amorphous polymers. The inclusion of a relaxation time to estimate surface concentration changes during sorption led to diffusion coefficients one order of magnitude higher than Fickian coefficients. However, adding a volume increment term to account for polymer swelling, diffusion coefficients went up to 48 times the Fickian values. Experimentally, butyl acrylate with a small amount of photosensitizer was diffused into a slightly crosslinked polystyrene slab matrix at different temperatures in the glassy region. After fixing the gradient composition by photopolymerization, chemical structures throughout the slab were determined by FTIR. The proposed model was confronted with experimental sorption showing a close fit at the different temperatures in the region of interest. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 80: 1343–1348, 2001