A convenient and industrially scalable method for synthesis of homogeneous nanocomposite films comprising poly(styrene-stat-butyl acrylate) and nanodimensional graphene oxide (GO) or reduced GO (rGO) is presented. Importantly, the nanocomposite latex undergoes film formation at ambient temperature, thus alleviating any need for high temperature or high pressure methods such as compression molding. The method entails synthesis of an aqueous nanocomposite latex via miniemulsion copolymerization relying on nanodimensional GO sheets as sole surfactant, followed by ambient temperature film formation resulting in homogeneous film. For comparison, a similar latex obtained by physical mixing of a polymer latex with an aqueous GO dispersion results in severe phase separation, illustrating that the miniemulsion approach using GO as surfactant is key to obtaining homogeneous nanocomposite films. Finally, it is demonstrated that the GO sheets can be readily reduced to rGO in situ by heat treatment of the film.

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© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem. 2017, 55, 2289–2297