Latexes with very small particle size are usually manufactured by microemulsion polymerization. This article explains the preparation of nanolatexes by monomer-starved nucleation in a conventional semibatch emulsion polymerization with a low surfactant/monomer ratio and with no need for a cosurfactant. The semibatch emulsion polymerization reactions started with an aqueous solution of a surfactant and a water soluble initiator. Monomer was added at a fixed rate. The size of particles decreased with decreasing rate of monomer addition. High solids content nanolatexes with particles as small as 25 nm in diameter were produced. Several monomers with different water solubilities were compared. The order of the number of particles in terms of the rate of monomer addition was found to depend on the type of monomer. Water soluble monomers produced more particles due to associated chain transfer to monomer and radical exit. The monodispersity of particles at the end of nucleation increased as the rate of monomer addition decreased. The technique seems to be preferable to microemulsion polymerization, which uses a high concentration of surfactant/cosurfactant and is limited to low monomer holdup.
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