In this work, a new and highly efficient method of surface-initiated free radical graft-polymerizations on the surfaces of silica gel particles was put forward, and the graft-polymerization of methacrylic acid (MAA) was conducted. This method was convenient, feasible and highly effective. Coupling agent γ-mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane(MPTS) was first bonded onto the surfaces of silica gel particles, obtaining the modified particles MPTS-SiO2, onto which mercapto groups were chemically attached, so a redox initiation system of graft-polymerization was constituted by the mercapto group on the surfaces of MPTS-SiO2 particles and the cerium (IV) salt in the solution. And then the surface-initiated free radical graft-polymerization of MAA on the surfaces of silica gel particles was carried out, resulting in the grafted particles PMAA/SiO2 with a very high grafting density (35 g/100 g) of PMAA. The grafted particles PMAA/SiO2 were characterized by infrared spectrum (FTIR), scanning electron microscope (SEM) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The effects of the main factors on the new surface-initiated graft polymerization were emphatically examined, and the corresponding mechanism of the graft-polymerization was investigated in depth. The experimental results show that the mercapto group-cerium salt system analogous to the hydroxyl group-cerium salt system, can also effectively initiate vinyl monomers to be graft-polymerized on the surfaces of solid particles, and furthermore, it is a highly effective surface-initiated graft-polymerization method. In this graft-polymerization system, several factors such as sulfuric acid concentration, the used amount of cerium salt and the reaction temperature affect the grafting density greatly. For the graft-polymerization of MAA, the appropriate reaction conditions are as follows: reaction time of 3 h, reaction temperature of 50 °C, cerium concentration of 5.0 × 10−3 M, acid (H+ ion) concentration of 0.15 M and MAA concentration of 0.5 M.
Mercapto group Cerium salt Surface-initiated graft-polymerization Methacrylic acid Silica gel particles
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