Australian Journal of Chemistry Australian Journal of Chemistry Society
An international journal for chemical science

The Entry of Free Radicals Into Polystyrene Latex Particles

ME Adams, M Trau, RG Gilbert, DH Napper and DF Sangster

Australian Journal of Chemistry 41(12) 1799 - 1813
Published: 1988


Mechanistic understanding of the processes governing the kinetics of emulsion polymerization has both scientific and technical interest. One component of this process that is poorly understood at present is that of free radical entry into latex particles. Measurements were made of the entry rate coefficient as a function of temperature for free radicals entering polystyrene latex particles in seeded emulsion polymerizations initiated by γ-rays. The activation energy for entry was found to be less than 24±3 kJ mol-1, consistent with entry being controlled by a physical (e.g., diffusional ) rather than a chemical process. Measurement of the entry rate coefficient as a function of the γ-ray dose rate suggested that the factors that determine the entry rate when the primary free radicals are uncharged are similar to those that determine the entry rate for charged free radicals derived from chemical initiation by peroxydisulfate. This result was consistent with measurements of the entry rate coefficient of charged free radicals derived from peroxydisulfate; these data were found to be virtually independent of both the extent of the latex surface coverage by the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate and the ionic strength of the continuous phase. The data refute several proposals given in the literature for the rate-determining step for entry, being inconsistent with control by (1) collision of free radicals with the latex particles, (2) surfactant desorption , and (3) an electrostatic barrier arising from the colloidal nature of the entering free radical. The origin of the activation energy for entry remains obscure.

© CSIRO 1988

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