We study the stability of polymeric nanoparticles fabricated through the rapid mixing of polymers in a good solvent with a poor solvent that is miscible with the good solvent. In previous experiments where water was used as the poor solvent, a negative surface charge was measured on the precipitated nanoparticles, which led to the long-time stability of the dispersion. It was argued that these charges originate presumably from either water or hydroxide adsorption at the hydrophobic nanoparticle surface or from impurities in the feed streams that preferentially adsorb on the precipitated nanoparticles. To elucidate the origin of this stabilization mechanism, we performed experiments wherein we replaced water with a nonpolar poor solvent. The polymers aggregated into stable nanoparticles for a range of processing parameters. We investigated theoretically three possible explanations for this stability, i.e., electrostatic stabilization, conditional thermodynamic equilibrium, and steric stabilization. Our experiments and considerations suggest that steric stabilization is the most likely candidate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces