The Emulsion Polymers Institute was formed at Lehigh University in 1975 to carry out interdisciplinary research designed to gain fundamental information on - and understanding of - the preparation, characterization, properties, and applications of latexes: A latex is defined as a colloidal dispersion of submicroscopic polymer particles in a continuous medium, sometimes being referred to as emulsion polymers or polymer colloids.
The research activities of the Institute are diverse. There are five areas of continuing major commitment:
- kinetics and
mechanisms in all aspects of polymerization in heterogeneous systems;
- miniemulsions, their preparation, reaction kinetics, and application in homopolymerizations, copolymerizations, and hybrids;
- morphology and its development through experimental and theoretical studies;
- the role of surfactants including ionic, nonionic, polymeric, and polymerizable; and
- film formation from latexes.
Other areas of research include:
- reactors, modeling, and control;
- surface characterization of latex particles;
- determination of particle size and size distribution;
- flocculation/coagulation; and
- large-particle-size monodisperse latexes.
The last of these has included microgravity and simulated microgravity, seeded, and dispersion polymerizations to prepare polymer particles which are uniform, highly crosslinked, and porous.
Recent contract research includes areas such as the kinetics and mechanism of inverse emulsion polymerization, the synthesis of expandable microspheres, the effect of particle morphology on impact modification, and the development of heat transfer fluids containing nanoparticles
The Institute's staff is comprised of faculty from the departments of
Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics, as well as research scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting research scientists from many parts of the world. It has ten graduate students drawn primarily from the departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
The financial support of the Institute comes from our Industrial Liaison Program with member companies from all over the world, contract and grant research from government agencies and industry, and proceeds of the Annual Short Course.
More information may be found at the EPI website, http://fp2.cc.lehigh.edu/inemuls/epi/epi_home_page.htm