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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2010 Nov 15;351(2):374-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2010.07.071. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Formation of core (polystyrene)-shell (polybenzimidazole) nanoparticles using sulfonated polystyrene as template.

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School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.


We report formation of core (polystyrene)-shell (polybenzimidazole) nanoparticles from a new blend system consisting of an amorphous polymer polybenzimidazole (PBI) and an ionomer sodium salt of sulfonated polystyrene (SPS-Na). The ionomer used for the blending is spherical in shape with sulfonate groups on the surface of the particles. An in depth investigation of the blends at various sulfonation degrees and compositions using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy provides direct evidence of specific hydrogen bonding interactions between the N-H groups of PBI and the sulfonate groups of SPS-Na. The disruption of PBI chains self association owing to the interaction between the functional groups of these polymer pairs is the driving force for the blending. Thermodynamical studies carried out by using differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) establish partially miscible phase separated blending of these polymers in a wider composition range. The two distinguishable glass transition temperatures (T(g)) which are different from the neat components and unaltered with the blends composition attribute that the domain size of heterogeneity (d(d)) of the blends is >20 nm since one of the blend component (SPS-Na particle) diameter is ∼70 nm. The diminish of PBI chains self association upon blending with SPS-Na particles and the presence of invariant T(g)'s of the blends suggest the wrapping of PBI chains over the SPS-Na spherical particle surface and hence resulting a core-shell morphology. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) study provides direct evidence of core-shell nanoparticle formation; where core is the polystyrene and shell is the PBI. The sulfonation degree affects the blends phase separations. The higher degree of sulfonation favors the disruption of PBI self association and thus forms partially miscible two phases blends with core-shell morphology.

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