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The Role of Reactant Transport in Determining the Properties of NIF Shells Made by Interfacial Polycondensation

Kenneth E. Hamilton, Stephan A. Letts, Steven R. Buckley, Evelyn M. Fearon, Gerald Wilemski, Robert C. Cook, Diana Schroen-Carey

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 31 / Number 4 / July 1997 / Pages 391-401


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Polymer shells up to 2 mm in diameter were prepared using an interfacial polycondensation / cross-linking reaction occurring at the surface of an oil drop. The oil phase is comprised of a solution (20 wt% or less) of isophthaloyl dichloride (IPC) dissolved in an organic solvent. An interfacial reaction is initiated when the IPC-loaded oil drop is submerged in an aqueous solution of poly(p-vinylphenol) (PVP), a poly(electrolyte) at elevated pH. Composition, structure, and surface finish for fully-formed dry shells were assessed using a number of techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), pyrolysis-gas chromatography (GC) - mass spectroscopy (MS), microhardness measurements, gas permeability, and solvent permeability measurements. From deposition rate data, a reaction mechanism and key reaction parameters were identified. The deposition rate of shell membrane material was found to be a diffusion limited reaction of IPC through the forming membrane to the exterior shell interface (which is believed to be the reaction front). The final thickness of the film deposited at the interface and the rate of deposition were found to be strong functions of the IPC concentration and oil phase solvent. Films made with diethyl phthalate (DEP) were thinner and harder than films made using 1,6-dichlorohexane (DCH) as a solvent. Differences in solubility of the forming membrane in DCH and DEP appear to be able to account for the differences in deposition rate and the hardness (related to cross-linking density). The deposition can be thought of as a phase separation which is affected by both the poly(electrolyte) / ionomer transition and the amount of cross-linking. Finally, it was found that the choice of oil phase solvent profoundly affects the evolution of the outer surface roughness.

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