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Does morphology stick? Tailored particle morphologies by swelling polymerization process



Structured dispersion particles suitable for pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) were synthesized via swelling polymerization technique (EP 359562). Particles consisting of poly(n-butyl acrylate) copolymerized with different types of carboxylic acids were used as seeds. The final particles were synthesized by swelling polymerization process, using 6 wt % styrene or 6 wt % methyl methacylate. The resulting particle morphology was analyzed by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). From previous works (Coll Surf A 2001, 183–185, 725–737; J Appl Polym Sci 2004, 91, 2610–2623) where two-step emulsion polymerization was used on similar particles, it is expected that the particle morphology is affected by the polarity of the monomer used for swelling polymerization because of the phase compatibility (thermodynamic parameter). In this work, the seed particles used were always of a glass transition temperature (Tg) below polymerization temperature. The diffusion of the growing polymer chains from the swelling polymerization is therefore mainly affected by their own Tg and the influence of the carboxy groups on the chain length of the entering radicals (kinetic parameter). The different morphologies of the single particles are discussed qualitatively. The effects of reaction parameters are compared with the results given in the previous work. The structure of the corresponding dispersion films was characterized using AFM. Correlations to macroscopic properties such as the cohesive strength and peel adhesion to different substrates are discussed. The results are also compared with the application properties of the corresponding unmodified particles, statistical copolymers, and to blends with small sized PMMA or PS particles. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 101: 1444–1455, 2006