Langmuir, Vol.36, No.18, 4855-4862, 2020
Quantification for the Mixing of Polymers on Microspheres in Waterborne Latex Films
Although tremendous efforts have been devoted to the structural analysis and understanding of the toughness of latex films, in which soft elastomer microspheres are interpenetrated, a method to quantitatively analyze the mixing of polymer chains at the microsphere surface, i.e., delocalization of hydrophilic charged group on the polymer chains by aging, has not yet been established. In this study, small-angle X-ray scattering was applied to characterize latex films by assuming a pseudo-two-phase system, which consists of an average-electron density microsphere core and a high-electron density interphase between the microsphere interfaces due to localized charged groups. The thus obtained parameter, i.e., the characteristic interfacial thickness (t(inter)), quantitatively reflects the degree of mixing of polymer chains on the microsphere surface. We found that t(inter) is strongly correlated to the fracture energy of the latex films. The proposed analysis method for the microscopic mixing of polymers on the microsphere surface in the film can thus be expected to shed light on design guidelines for industrial latex films and on the understanding of the mechanical properties of such films.