Polymer–surfactant interactions in graft copolymer solutions



Graft copolymers composed of water-soluble cellulosic backbones and > 0.4% (by weight) alkyl grafts are insoluble in water but soluble in surfactant solutions. Studies of the bulk viscosity and stability of polymer-surfactant solutions at 49°C indicate that the mechanism for solubilization of the polymer is the incorporation of the alkyl side chains into surfactant micelles. The tendency for side chains to combine with micelles appears to depend at least in part on the geometry of the surfactant tail group such that surfactants containing straight-chain tail groups solubilize alkyl side chains more readily than olefinic surfactants. The presence of small solutes near the surface of the micelle also inhibits incorporation of side chains from the polymer. Unsolubilized side chains remain in the aqueous phase of the solution, where they form thermally unstable intermolecular aggregates.