Vertical water distribution during the drying of polymer films cast from aqueous emulsions
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We present a systematic study of the vertical uniformity of water distribution during the drying of waterborne colloidal films, testing the predictions of a Peclet number Pe defined for this system. Pe indicates the relative contributions of water evaporation and Brownian diffusion in determining the concentration profile in the vertical direction (i.e. normal to the substrate). When Pe < 1, the water concentration in films cast from an alkyd emulsion is found via magnetic-resonance profiling to be uniform with depth, which is consistent with expectations. When Pe > 1, a gradient in the water concentration develops, with less water near the interface with air. The water profiles reveal that the alkyd particles do not coalesce immediately upon contact in close-packing. At later times, a concentrated surface layer develops, but particles are not coalesced in this layer to form a continuous “skin”, but rather the structure is likely to be that of a biliquid foam.
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