• emulsion polymerization;
  • microwave


The emulsifier-free emulsion polymerization of methyl methacrylate (MMA) was conducted with microwave irradiation. Superfine and monodisperse poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) microspheres were obtained. Microwave irradiation notably promoted the polymerization reaction. This phenomenon was ascribed to the acceleration of the initiator [potassium persulfate (KPS)] decomposition by microwave irradiation. The experimental results revealed that the apparent activation energy of KPS decomposition decreased from 128.3 to 106.0 kJ/mol with microwave irradiation. The average particle size of the prepared PMMA latex was mainly controlled with the MMA concentration; it increased linearly from 103 to 215 nm when the MMA concentration increased from 0 to 0.3 mol/L and then remained almost constant at MMA concentrations of 0.3–1.0 mol/L. The KPS concentration had no effect on the average particle size, but the particle size dispersity was significantly reduced by a high KPS concentration. With a mixed polymerization phase (water/acetone = 1:3 v/v) or a redox initiation system, PMMA nanoparticles were obtained with an average particle size of 45 or 67 nm, respectively. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 93: 2815–2820, 2004