Condensation of water droplets during rapid evaporation of a polymer solution, under humid conditions, has been known to generate uniformly porous polymer films. Similar porous films are also formed when a solution of the polymer in THF containing small amounts of water, is allowed to evaporate rapidly under air flow; this suggests that water droplets may be formed during the final stages of film formation. In the presence of added surfactants, the interface of water droplets could become lined with the surfactants and consequently the internal walls of the pores generated, upon removal of the water, could become decorated with the hydrophilic head groups of the surfactant molecules. In a series of carefully designed experiments, we have examined the effect of added surfactants, both anionic and cationic, on the formation of porous PMMA films; the films were prepared by evaporating a solution of the polymer in THF containing controlled amounts of aqueous surfactant solutions. We observed that the average size of the pores decreases with increasing surfactant concentration, while it increases with increasing amounts of added water. The size of the pores and their distribution were examined using AFM and IR imaging methods. Although IR imaging possessed inadequate resolution to confirm the presence of surfactants at the pore surface, exchange of the inorganic counterion, such as the sodium-ion of SDS, with suitable ionic organic dyes permitted the unequivocal demonstration of the presence of the surfactants at the interface by the use of confocal fluorescence microscopy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)