May 20-25, 2018
Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) adhere quickly and firmly to surfaces with the application of light pressure, and can be removed without leaving a residue. Their mechanical performance is measured by tack, peel strength and shear strength. A balanced combination between the three mechanical performance measurements depends on the specific end-use application and is challenging to achieve. This is particularly so when replacing solvent-based technologies with more sustainable, water-based (i.e., emulsion polymerization) technologies. PSAs synthesized using emulsion polymerization tend to have a lower shear strength due to poor gel network formation. As a result, conventional emulsion-based PSAs suffer from the inability to increase certain adhesive properties (e.g., tack and peel strength) while simultaneously increasing shear strength.
Nanomaterials are often used in polymer composites to improve polymer properties (e.g., tensile strength). They are particularly effective in low quantities (e.g., <2 >wt.%) because of their high surface area. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are a “green alternative” to common nanomaterials and are isolated from natural cellulose. CNCs have been used more commonly, in the past, as rheological modifiers and interface stabilizers. Because CNCs form colloidally stable dispersions in water, they can be incorporated/processed in water-based systems, eliminating the need for organic solvents. The most common method to produce CNCs is through acid hydrolysis with sulfuric acid; this process preferentially degrades the disordered cellulose regions and leaves behind the crystalline CNCs with grafted anionic sulfate half ester groups. The resulting nanoparticles are whisker-shaped and have a high aspect ratio. CNCs provide composite material reinforcement in the range of other nanomaterials.
In the past, CNCs have been blended with polymers and significant strength improvements were noted. Our studies demonstrate how to incorporate CNCs in a nanocomposite using an in situ semi-batch emulsion polymerization protocol. PSA nanocomposite films were generated for a broad variety of copolymer systems including monomers such as iso-butyl acrylate, n-butyl acrylate, 2-ethyl hexyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate, styrene and vinyl acetate. In all cases, the monomer composition of the reaction formulations was manipulated to achieve a suitable range of polymer glass transition temperatures. CNC loadings were varied from 0 to 0.5 to 1 wt.% (based on monomer weight). The addition of CNC was shown to significantly and simultaneously increase tack, peel strength, and shear strength.
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