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Langmuir. 2013 Sep 24;29(38):12013-24. doi: 10.1021/la402331b. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

Porating anion-responsive copolymeric gels.

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  • 1School of Engineering Technology and Coatings Research Institute, Eastern Michigan University , Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197, United States.


A polymerizable ionic liquid surfactant, 1-(11-acryloyloxyundecyl)-3-methylimidiazolium bromide (ILBr), was copolymerized with methyl methacrylate (MMA) in aqueous microemulsions at 30% (ILBr w/w) and various water to MMA ratios. The ternary phase diagram of the ILBr/MMA/water system was constructed at 25 and 60 °C. Homopolymers and copolymers of ILBr and MMA were produced by thermally initiated chain radical microemulsion polymerization at various compositions in bicontinuous and reverse microemulsion subdomains. Microemulsion polymerization reaction products varied from being gel-like to solid, and these materials were analyzed by thermal and scanning electron microscopy methods. Microemulsion polymerized materials were insoluble in all solvents tested, consistent with light cross-linking. Ion exchange between Br(-) and PF6(-) in these copolymeric materials resulted in the formation of open-cell porous structures in some of these materials, as was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Several compositions illustrate the capture of prepolymerization nanoscale structure by thermally initiated polymerization, expanding the domain of compositions exhibiting this feat and yet to be demonstrated in any other system. Regular cylindrical pores in interpenetrating ILBr-co-MMA and PMMA networks are produced by anion exchange in the absence of templates. A percolating cluster/bicontinuous transition is "captured" by SEM after using anion exchange to visualize the mixed cluster/pore morphology. Some design principles for achieving this capture and for obtaining stimuli responsive solvogels are articulated, and the importance of producing solvogels in capturing the nanoscale is highlighted.

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