Ethylene/(meth)acrylic acid ionomers plasticized and reinforced by metal soaps

Katsuyuki Wakabayashi, Richard A. Register

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Metal soaps, also known as fatty acid salts, resemble oligomers of ethylene/methacrylic or ethylene/acrylic acid (E/(M)AA) ionomers, in that they contain carboxylic salt headgroups and long methylene sequences in their hydrocarbon tails. Such soaps might thus be expected to form miscible blends with E/(M)AA ionomers under suitable conditions, providing a separate route to increasing an ionomer's ion content and modifying its physical properties. We show here that the structure and property modifications induced by blending metal soaps into E/(M)AA ionomers are complex, and depend on both the neutralizing cation and on whether the hydrocarbon tails are crystallizable. In the melt at sufficiently high temperatures, all blends show a coassembled structure, where the salt groups of the soap coaggregate with the salt groups on the ionomer; despite the high ion content of these blends, they retain the melt processability characteristic of neat E/(M)AA ionomers of much lower ion content. Non-crystallizable magnesium oleate and magnesium erucate act as permanent plasticizers, lowering the matrix glass transition temperature. Magnesium stearate, whose alkyl tails easily form a rotator phase, can slowly 'cocrystallize' with ethylene sequences in the ionomers, leading to high moduli; however, primary crystallization is suppressed in these blends. Finally, while sodium stearate is miscible with the ionomers at elevated temperatures, it phase-separates on cooling, prior to crystallization of the ionomer; such blends are essentially composites of pure stearate and ionomer phases, with their associated individual properties, rather than possessing new structures or properties resulting from coassembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2874-2883
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 5 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Blend
  • Ionomer
  • Metal soap


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