A novel method for preparing poly(propylene-graft-2-methacrylic acid 3-(bis-carboxymethylamino)-2-hydroxypropyl ester)-silver fibers (PPG-IAg fibers) by plasma-induced grafting polymerization is presented in this study. The chelating groups, -N(CH2COO-)2 (GMA-IDA), on the surface of the PPG-I fibers are the coordination sites for chelating silver ions. At these sites, Ag nanoparticles were grown first by reduction with UV light with a wavelength of 366 nm, and second, through immersion in a 24% formaldehyde solution with pH values set variously at 2, 5, 8, and 11. The characteristics of the PPG-I fibers with differing durations of plasma treatment were monitored by using a Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscope. Scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and elemental analysis show that the percentage of GMA-IDA grafted onto PP fiber reaches a maximum when the plasma treatment time is 3 min. Plasma treatment time beyond a certain length of time results in an abundance of free radicals and causes considerable cross-linking on the fiber surface which thus decreases the extent of grafting. Moreover, the crystalline phase of Ag nanoparticles is identified by using X-ray diffraction (XRD). When the PPG-I fibers are reduced by the UV light method, SEM and TEM microscopes reveal that the size of the Ag nanoparticles on the fiber surface decreases significantly with the increase of pH values in aqueous solutions. Notably, in the reduction of formaldehyde solution, the particle size of Ag nanoparticles reaches a minimum at the lowest pH value. The TEM observations show that Ag nanoparticles are distributed both in the exterior and interior of the grafting layer. In addition, under high pH values the distribution of the Ag nanoparticles permeate more deeply in the GMA-IDA grafting layer due to the swelling effect of the GMA-IDA polymer.
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