• fluorescence;
  • solvatochromism;
  • emulsion polymers;
  • waterborne coatings;
  • volatile organic components;
  • film formation

The process of film formation is of great importance for the application of organic coatings. In waterborne coatings, organic cosolvents are still indispensable, but regulations force the industry to reduce their amounts. Here we describe a method that uses the solvatochromic fluorescence of a probe molecule copolymerized in an emulsion polymerization process with different monomers to shed light on the partitioning of cosolvents in polymer latex materials. The formulation of the latex with organic cosolvents that are not very water soluble leads to a quantifiable redshift of the emission of the probe. The transfer of the cosolvent upon mixing of cosolvent-containing and cosolvent-free compartments can also be monitored.