PEO-based star copolymers as stabilizers for water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsions

Wenwen Li, Yao Yu, Melissa Lamson, Michael S. Silverstein, Robert D. Tilton, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A series of well-defined poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO)-based star copolymers with controlled number of arms, compactness, and compositions were prepared by atom transfer radical polymerization using a simple "arm-first" method. Tuning the composition of the arms allowed these star polymers to stabilize either oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsions. Stable oil-in-water emulsions were obtained with star copolymers containing only hydrophilic PEO arms due to their better affinity to the aqueous phase. In contrast, the insertion of a fraction of hydrophobic poly(butyl acrylate) arms into the star structure significantly changed the surfactant behavior of the star copolymers, leading to the formation of stable water-in-oil emulsions. Additionally, in both cases, an extremely low surfactant concentration, <0.01 wt % vs total weight of water and xylene used for emulsion formation, was sufficient to generate stable emulsions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9419-9426
Number of pages8
Issue number23
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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