Indexed on: 01 Oct '16Published on: 01 Oct '16Published in: Scientific Reports
Water plays important roles in organic reactions such as polyurethane synthesis, and the aqueous solution environment affects polymer morphology and other properties. This paper focuses on the morphology and surface properties of waterborne polyurethane resulting from the organic reaction in water involving different forms (solid and liquid), temperatures and aqueous solutions. We provide evidence from TEM observations that the appearance of polyurethane nanoparticles in aqueous solutions presents diverse forms, including imperfect spheres, perfect spheres, perfect and homogenous spheres and tubes. Based on the results on FTIR, GPC, AFM and XRD experiments, we suggest that the shape of the nanoparticles may be decided by the crimp degree (i.e., the degree of polyurethane chains intertangling in the water environment) and order degree, which are determined by the molecular weight (Mn) and hydrogen bonds. Meanwhile, solid water and high-temperature water can both reduce hard segments that gather on the polyurethane film surface to reduce hydrophilic groups and produce a soft surface. Our findings show that water may play key roles in aqueous polymer formation and bring order to molecular chains.