Polymer nanocomposites have been synthesized by the covalent addition of bromide-functionalized graphene (Graphene-Br) through the single electron transfer-living radical polymerization technique (SET-LRP). Graphite functionalized with bromide for the first time via an efficient route using mild reagents has been designed to develop a graphene based radical initiator. The efficiency of sacrificial initiator (ethyl α-bromoisobutyrate) has also been compared with a graphene based initiator towards monitoring their Cu(0) mediated controlled molecular weight and morphological structures through mass spectroscopy (MOLDI-TOF) and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) analysis, respectively. The enhancement in thermal stability is observed for graphene-grafted-poly(methyl methacrylate) (G-g-PMMA) at 392 °C, which may be due to the influence ofthe covalent addition of graphene, whereas the sacrificial initiator used to synthesize G-graft-PMMA (S) has low thermal stability as analyzed by TGA. A significant difference is noticed on their glass transition and melting temperatures by DSC. The controlled formation and structural features of the polymer-functionalized-graphene is characterized by Raman, FT-IR, UV-Vis spectroscopy, NMR, and zeta potential measurements. The wettability measurements of the novel G-graft-PMMA on leather surface were found to be better in hydrophobic nature with a water contact angle of 109 ± 1°.
Keywords: graphene; poly(methyl methacrylate); radical initiator; single electron transfer.