Surface-active copolymer formation stabilizes PEG droplets and bubbles in silicone foams.
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Large increases in viscosity are not normally observed when insoluble liquid polymers are mixed in the absence of a compatibilizing agent: the liquids separate into bulk phases. Mixing propyl- or allyl-modified oligo(ethylene glycol)(PEG), but not the parent hydroxy-terminated oligo(ethylene glycol), with silicone pre-elastomers led a sharp increase in viscosity that preceded the onset of cure. Only in the case of allyl-modified PEG, however, did a low density, closed cell silicone foam form that, in addition to trapped bubbles, contained dispersed PEG droplets. Rheological studies demonstrate that the origins of the viscosity build lie in the formation, shortly after mixing, of organo-PEG stabilized droplets that act as fillers within the silicone pre-elastomers. Similar viscosity builds were not observed with hydroxy-terminated oligo(ethylene glycol). Although the propyl-modified PEG led initially to large viscosity increases, its ability to stabilize bubbles was comparably limited. The surface activity of the propyl- and allyl-PEG compounds themselves facilitates the formation of a colloidal dispersion within the silicone. However, the key to the observed foamed product is the in situ platinum-catalyzed hydrosilylation of the allyl group, prior to or concomitant with silicone cure, leading to PEG-silicone copolymers that are able to stabilize both dispersed PEG droplets and bubbles.
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