Water-borne polymeric dispersions of superhydrophobic monomers can be catalogued as high performance materials, particularly towards applications involving excellent water-barrier properties. Their industrial production however is challenging due to their low water solubility. This work illustrates the polymerization of superhydrophobic monomers lauryl methacrylate and isobornyl acrylate in aqueous media, while avoiding the use of energy intensive procedures and keeping particle sizes and surfactant concentrations relatively low, by implementing a novel emulsion polymerization technique. The success is attributed to the presence of an emulsifier with very low CMC and its ability to stabilize nano-sized monomer droplets in water. The polymerization of superhydrophobic monomer is explained by the transport of monomer to the polymer particles through a collision-based monomer transport mechanism and by radical capture of the nano-sized monomer droplets. The likelihood of both mechanisms is assessed.
Volume 93, August 2017, Pages 44–52