Rapid Precipitation of Ionomers for Stabilization of Polymeric Colloids

Douglas M. Scott, Arash Nikoubashman, Richard A. Register, Rodney D. Priestley, Robert K. Prud’homme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polymeric colloids have shown potential as “building blocks” in applications ranging from formulations of Pickering emulsions and drug delivery systems to advanced materials, including colloidal crystals and composites. However, for applications requiring tunable properties of charged colloids, obstacles in fabrication can arise through limitations in process scalability and chemical versatility. In this work, the capabilities of flash nanoprecipitation (FNP), a scalable nanoparticle (NP) fabrication technology, are expanded to produce charged polystyrene colloids using sulfonated polystyrene ionomers as a new class of NP stabilizers. Through experimental exploration of formulation parameters, increases in the ionomer content are shown to reduce the particle size, mitigating a significant trade-off between the final particle size and inlet concentration; thus, expanding the processable material throughput of FNP. Further, the degree of sulfonation is found to impact stabilization with optimal performance achieved by selecting ionomers with intermediate (2.45-5.2 mol %) sulfonation. Simulations of single ionomer chains and their arrangement in multicomponent NPs provide molecular insights into the assembly and structure of NPs wherein the partitioning of ionomers to the particle surface depends on the polymer molecular weight and degree of sulfonation. By combining the insights from simulations with diffusion-limited growth kinetics and parametric fits to experimental data, a simple design formulation relation is proposed and validated. This work highlights the potential of ionomer-based stabilizers for controllably producing charged NP dispersions in a scalable manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Electrochemistry


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