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Humidity-Induced Phase Transitions of Surfactants Embedded in Latex Coatings Can Drastically Alter Their Water Barrier and Mechanical Properties.

ABSTRACT: Latex coatings are environmentally friendly i.e., they are formed from aqueous polymer dispersions, are cheap to produce and provide exceptional mechanical properties. Therefore, they are ubiquitous and can be found in a wide range of different applications such as paints and varnishes, pressure-sensitive adhesives, textiles, construction materials, paper coatings and inks. However, they also have weaknesses and their surfactant content is among them. Surfactants are often needed to stabilize polymer particles in the aqueous latex dispersions. These surfactants also form part of the coatings formed from these dispersions, and it is well-known that they can lower their performance. This work further explores this aspect and focuses on the role that embedded surfactant domains play in the response of latex coatings to humid environments. For this purpose, we made use of several experimental techniques where humidity control was implemented: quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, atomic force microscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. By means of this multimethodological approach, we report that surfactants embedded in latex coatings can undergo humidity-induced transitions towards more hydrated and softer phases, and that this results in a drastic decrease of the mechanical and water barrier properties of the whole coatings. Subsequently, this work highlights the potential of taking into account the phase behavior of surfactants when choosing which ones to use in the synthesis of latex dispersions as this would help in predicting their performance under different environmental conditions.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6415026 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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