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Synthesis and characterisation of microporous polymer microspheres with strong cation-exchange character

Cormack, Peter and Davies, Arlene and Fontanals Torroja, Nuria (2012) Synthesis and characterisation of microporous polymer microspheres with strong cation-exchange character. Reactive and Functional Polymers, 72. pp. 939-946. ISSN 1381-5148

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In this paper the synthesis and characterization of microporous polymer microspheres with ultra-high specific surface areas (>1000 m2/g) and strong cation-exchange character is described. The microspheres were synthesized by the hypercrosslinking of swellable precursor particles which had been produced by precipitation polymerization. The strong cation-exchange character, arising from the presence of sulfonic acid groups, was introduced through post-hypercrosslinking chemical modification reactions. Two alkyl sulfate reagents of differing polarity were compared as reagents for the sulfonation reactions, and a synthetic methodology was devised that allowed the sulfonic acid content of the microspheres to be controlled. Following a series of small-scale optimization experiments, optimized conditions were applied on a larger scale to the synthesis of three distinct polymers (HXLPP-SCX) tailored for use as strong cation-exchange (SCX) sorbents in solid-phase extraction (SPE) studies. All three polymers were in the form of polymer microspheres (mean particle diameters 3–5 lm) with relatively narrow particle size distributions and specific surface areas up to 1370 m2/g, and had tuneable ion-exchange capacities (IECs) ranging from 1.7–2.8 mmol/g.