Acorn-Shape Polymeric Nano-Colloids: Synthesis and Self-Assembled Films

Anuradha Misra, University of Southern Mississippi
Marek W. Urban, University of Southern Mississippi


These studies show for the first time that the synthesis of two distinct phase-separated copolymers within one colloidal particle, i.e., poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)/n-butylacrylate (nBA) and poly (nBA)/pentafluorostyrene (p-PFS) phases, results in unique acorn-shaped morphologies and are capable of coalescence. Spectroscopic and morphological analysis combined with contact angle measurements as well as thermodynamic modeling reveal that in an effort to create stable heterogeneous two-phase particle morphologies it is essential to provide desirable interfacial energetic conditions during polymerization and to utilise monomers that have a similar glass transition temperature (T(g)). Such colloidal particles are stable and are able to self-assemble during coalescence, depending upon the surface energy of a substrate. When a particle monolayer coalesces on a high surface tension substrate, the p-PFS phase expresses itself near the film-air interface, whereas for low surface energy substrates, the p-PFS phase dominates the film-substrate interfacial regions.