Synthesis of macroporous polymer particles using reactive gelation under shear

Langmuir. 2014 Jun 17;30(23):6946-53. doi: 10.1021/la5000793. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


By combining elements from colloidal and polymer reaction engineering a new approach toward macroporous, mechanically robust polymer particles is presented, which does not require any porogenic additives. Specifically, aggregation and breakage in turbulent conditions of aggregates originating from fully destabilized primary latex particles is applied to produce compact, micrometer-sized clusters. Post-polymerization of monomer introduced initially to swell the primary particles is imparting mechanical rigidity and permanence to the internal structure. The resulting microclusters exhibit an internal porosity on the order of 70% and relatively broad pore size distribution, with exceptionally large pores, ranging from about 50 nm to 10 μm in diameter. These particulate microclusters, produced via reactive gelation under shear, are fractal objects with fractal dimension around 2.7, as opposed to the more open fractal structure of a monolith produced via stagnant reactive gelation, with fractal dimension of 1.9. Such macroporous particles are thought to be useful in applications requiring pores on the micrometer scale, e.g., in the chromatography of biomolecules or for packing beds perfusive to convective flow.