Multilayered Polymer Microspheres by Thermal Imprinting during Microsphere Growth
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Modulation of the polymerization temperature in precipitation polymerizations was used to form onion-type polymer microspheres consisting of multiple nested layers. Specifically, the copolymerization of chloromethylstyrene and divinylbenzene-55 in acetonitrile, at temperatures ramping between 65 and 75 degrees C, led to monodisperse, cross-linked microspheres of about 10 mum diameter that have radial density profiles closely reflecting the thermal profiles used. This thermal imprinting is attributed to the copolymer formed being close to its theta point during the polymerization. As the microspheres grow by continuously capturing oligomers from solution, the resulting transient surface gel layer expands and contracts with temperature, and thus records the reaction temperature profile in the form of a corresponding density profile, even as it cross-links.
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