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Formation of a "hard microemulsion" and its role in controllable synthesis of nanoparticles within a functional polymer matrix.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids (2011-11-15)
Qingli Qian, Zhijun Huang, Xiaohui Zhang, Guoqing Yuan
ABSTRACT

Microemulsions are often used in the synthesis of nanoparticles in solution. In this work, we put forward the concept of a "hard microemulsion", which is based on the differential partitioning of water and ethanol solvent molecules inside functional polymer matrices. When the mixture of water and organic solvent enters the functional polymer, the liquid molecules should partition to different regions. Water should concentrate in the microdomains rich in hydrophilic functional groups, forming water-enriched cores, whereas organic solvents should localize near the alkyl polymer skeleton, forming organic liquid enriched outer layers. From a macroscopic view, the swollen polymer matrix is divided into numerous "microdroplets", resembling frozen water-in-oil microemulsions. We define such a structure as a "hard microemulsion". The water-enriched microdroplets may act as templates for synthesizing inorganic nanoparticles. We demonstrate the utility of hard microemulsions for the controllable synthesis of silver and platinum nanoparticles inside different macroreticular functional polymers.

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Sodium hydroxide, beads, 20-40 mesh, reagent grade, 97%