Phase Behavior of NR/PMMA Semi-IPNs and Development of Porous Structures
In this research, the porous polymer structures (IPN) were made from natural isoprene rubber (NR) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). The effects of molecular weight and crosslink density of polyisoprene on the morphology and miscibility with PMMA were determined. Sequential semi-IPNs were prepared. Viscoelastic, thermal and mechanical properties of semi-IPN were studied. The results showed that the key factor influencing the miscibility in semi-IPN was the crosslinking density of the natural rubber. The degree of compatibility was increased by doubling the crosslinking level. The degree of miscibility at two different compositions was compared by simulations of the electron spin resonance spectra. Compatibility of semi-IPNs was found to be more efficient when the PMMA content was less than 40 wt.%. A nanometer-sized morphology was obtained for a NR/PMMA ratio of 50/50. Highly crosslinked elastic semi-IPN followed the storage modulus of PMMA after the glass transition as a result of certain degree of phase mixing and interlocked structure. It was shown that the morphology of the porous polymer network could be easily controlled by the proper choice of concentration and composition of crosslinking agent. A dual phase morphology resulted from the higher concentration and the lower crosslinking level. This was used for developing porous structures from the elastic semi-IPN. The mechanical performance was correlated with morphology, and the thermal stability was comparable with respect to pure NR. Investigated materials might be interesting for use as potential carriers of bioactive molecules aimed for innovative applications such as in food packaging.