Miniemulsions are a special class of emulsion (typically a dispersion of submicroscopic droplets of oil in water), which allow the preparation of materials (polymers, composites, encapsulated particles, etc.) that can not be made by the conventional industrial emulsion techniques. These materials can have applications ranging from the mundane but important (e.g., adhesives and coatings) to the exotic (e.g., biomedical and optoelectronic devices). However, a crucial aspect of the understanding of how these miniemulsions are transformed into the final products has been lacking because of the difficulty in observing such small size species (often in the nanosize range); the usual measurement methods disturb the size of the species simply by the act of trying to measure them. Solutions to this dilemma (some involving recently developed technology) and their application will be explored in the fundamental aspect of this research.
The application of miniemulsions to the preparation of new materials will be explored with some emphasis on unique photonic devices. The special ability of miniemulsions to control various properties of the materials (including size, composition, surface properties) will be exploited in this research.
The fundamental work is expected to have a direct and substantial impact on the ability to apply miniemulsion technology to the development of unique materials both in this work at Lehigh and for others, particularly in industry. As water-based systems, they can promote environmental responsibility in large volume applications such as coatings and adhesives. Small-volume, high-value materials are envisioned in drug delivery, medical diagnostics, and photonics and optoelectronics.
The rapid dissemination of the results will be ensured; annual presentations to members companies of the Emulsion Polymers Institute's Industrial Liaison Program, as well as lectures at short courses (Advances in Emulsion Polymerization and Latex Technology; at Lehigh and overseas) designed for industrial research scientists and engineers will include significant findings, in addition to the expected presentations at international meetings and publications in prominent journals.