Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Polymers and Coatings


Chemistry & Biochemistry


College of Science and Mathematics


Erik Sapper

Advisor Department

Chemistry & Biochemistry

Advisor College

College of Science and Mathematics


Water-borne latex coatings represent a safer, more user-friendly, and environmentally responsible alternative to solvent-borne coatings, and are growing in popularity each year. However, these coatings often exhibit unfavorable performance when exposed to water for extended periods of time. This prolonged exposure often results in water uptake, which may give rise to other detrimental effects such as a decrease in modulus, blushing or water-whitening, reduced serviceable life, and softening of the film. In this study, various polymer composition latex design spaces are studied to develop an understanding of how water uptake can be modulated and minimized using common synthetic approaches. Factors including monomer selection, particle size, polymer molecular weight, crosslinking density, surfactant choice and particle stabilization, processing variables and Tg are considered. In addition, some formulation modifications including PVC, film thickness, and choice of coalescent package are explored to gain a more comprehensive understanding of final product performance. In quantifying the total water uptake of the films, gravimetric analysis tends to be the preferred method employed in the coatings industry. However, other analytical approaches can be used to better understand the effect that water has on the properties of the film. These methods may include differential scanning calorimetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, immersion testing using dynamic mechanical analysis, and others. In the work, it has been shown that interparticle crosslinking, surfactant, and monomer selection can have an extreme influence on the water uptake of free films. Film samples exhibit a range of water uptake values from nearly 200% to less than 5% over a one-week soak in deionized water. It is thought that the surfactant may provide hydrophilic channels that allow water to v penetrate the film and form heterogeneous domains within the coating. These domains then grow and scatter light, leading to water-whitening and an increase in mass when compared to the dry film. Utilizing monomers with differing relative solubilities in water, such as methyl methacrylate and styrene, further allow control of this effect. Interparticle crosslinking via keto-hydrazide crosslinking, which is achieved during the film formation process, can also prevent the formation and growth of these large water domains, thus resulting in better performing films.