Sterically stabilized polystyrene latexes were prepared by aqueous emulsion polymerization using a poly(ethylene imine) (PEI) stabilizer in the presence of 4-vinylbenzyl chloride (4-VBC; 1.0 wt % based on styrene). Partial quaternization of the amine groups on the PEI chains by 4-VBC occurs in situ, hence producing a chemically grafted steric stabilizer. Such 4-VBC-modified PEI chains were grafted more efficiently onto the polystyrene particles than unmodified PEI, as judged by aqueous electrophoresis, XPS, and nitrogen microanalysis. Moreover, partially quaternized PEI gave significantly smaller polystyrene particles than those synthesized in the absence of any PEI stabilizer or those synthesized using unmodified PEI. The partially quaternized PEI-stabilized polystyrene latex proved to be an effective emulsifier at pH 9, forming stable oil-in-water Pickering emulsions when homogenized (12,000 rpm, 2 min, 20 °C) with four model oils, namely, n-dodecane, methyl myristate, isononyl isononanoate, and sunflower oil. The primary and/or secondary amine groups on the PEI stabilizer chains were successfully cross-linked using three commercially available polymeric reagents, namely, tolylene 2,4-diisocyanate-terminated poly(propylene glycol) (PPG-TDI), poly(propylene glycol) diglycidyl ether (PPG-DGE), or poly(ethylene glycol) diglycidyl ether (PEG-DGE). Cross-linking with the former reagent led to robust colloidosomes that survived the removal of the internal oil phase on washing with excess alcohol, as judged by optical microscopy and SEM. PPG-TDI reacted very rapidly with the PEI stabilizer chains, with cross-linking being achieved during homogenization. Well-defined colloidosomes could be formed only by using sunflower oil and isononyl isononanoate with this cross-linker at 20 °C. However, cooling to 0 °C allowed colloidosomes to be formed using n-dodecane, presumably because of the slower rate of cross-linking at this reduced temperature. PPG-DGE proved to be a more generic cross-linker because it formed robust colloidosomes with all four model oils. However, cross-linking was much slower than that achieved using PPG-TDI, with intact colloidosomes being formed only after ∼12 h at 20 °C. The PEG-DGE cross-linker allowed cross-linking to be conducted at 20 °C from the aqueous phase (rather from within the oil droplets for the oil-soluble PPG-TDI or PPG-DGE cross-linkers). In this case, well-defined colloidosomes were obtained at 50 vol % with surprisingly little intercolloidosome aggregation, as judged by laser diffraction studies.
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