Novel Pickering Emulsifiers based on pH-Responsive Poly(tert-butylaminoethyl methacrylate) Latexes

A. J. Morse, D. Dupin, K. L. Thompson, S. P. Armes, K. Ouzineb, P. Mills, R. Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emulsion copolymerization of 2-(tert-butylamino)ethyl methacrylate in the presence of divinylbenzene (DVB) cross-linker and monomethoxy-capped poly(ethylene glycol) methacrylate (PEGMA) macromonomer at 70 °C afforded sterically-stabilized latexes at approximately 10% solids at pH 9. Dynamic light scattering and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) confirmed that relatively narrow size distributions were obtained. SEM confirmed the formation of spherical particles in the absence of any DVB cross-linker using a simple batch protocol, but in the presence of DVB it was necessary to use seeded emulsion polymerization under monomer-starved conditions to prevent the formation of latexes with ill-defined non-spherical morphologies. Lightly cross-linked latexes acquired cationic microgel character upon lowering the solution pH due to protonation of the secondary amine groups. Increasing the degree of cross-linking led to a progressively lower effective pKa of the copolymer chains from 8.0 to 7.3, which implies a gradual reduction in their basicity. Poly(tert-butylamino)ethyl methacrylate latex proved to be an effective Pickering emulsifier at pH 10, forming stable oil-in-water emulsions when homogenized with either n-dodecane or sunflower oil at 12 000 rpm for 2 min. These Pickering emulsions exhibited pH-responsive behavior: lowering the solution pH to 3 resulted in immediate demulsification due to the spontaneous desorption of the cationic microgels from the oil/water interface. Following rehomogenization at high pH, four successive demulsification/emulsification pH cycles could be achieved without a discernible loss in performance. However, no demulsification occurred on acidification of the fifth cycle, due to the progressive build-up of background salt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11742-11753
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2012


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