The comb-like surfactants, poly(styrene-co-maleic anhydride)-g-(poly(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether), poly(St-co-MA)-g-(MPEG), have been prepared using a macromonomer approach to get controlled molecular structures. The macromonomer (MAMPEG) was obtained by esterification of poly(ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether with maleic anhydride. Poly(St-co-MA)-g-(MPEG) with various molar ratios of St to MAMPEG (R) were then constructed by radical copolymerization. The comb-like structures of the surfactants were confirmed by infrared and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. It is found from gel permeation chromatography characterization that the molecular weight of the surfactants increases as R increases. The polydispersity index was in the range between 1.4 and 2.0 in all the cases. The surfactants with a higher St percentage are less soluble in water due to aggregation. The value of critical aggregation concentration (CAC) and the surface tension at the CAC (γCAC) decrease as R increases. The steady-shear measurements show that the surfactant solutions at 50 g/L are dilatant fluids. In addition, it appears that there are two break points in the viscosity-shear rate curve. Both break points increase with increasing R. It can therefore be concluded that the properties of comb-like surfactants poly(St-co-MA)-g-(MPEG) are related to molecular structure. The results demonstrate that the properties of these comb-like surfactants can be tailored through appropriate molecular design.
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