Potassium persulfate (K2S2O8) was used to initiate the polymerization of acrylic acid (AA) monomer in a chitosan (CS) solution. Both a poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) homopolymer and a CS-co-PAA copolymer were produced. When the amount of AA was increased from 5 to 40 g with 5 g of CS, the total monomer conversion was found to increase from 89 to 98% after 2 h of reaction at 70°C. In addition, the percentage of reacted AA monomer being converted to the CS-co-PAA copolymer (copolymerization efficiency) and the weight composition of the PAA portion in the copolymer (copolymer composition) both increased with the amount of AA added. The structures and properties of the synthesized CS-modified PAA polymers were studied. In Fourier transform infrared spectra, the formation of a polyelectrolyte complex between CS chains and PAA chains could be observed. From the thermograms obtained via differential scanning calorimetry, we found that the presence of rigid CS chains increased the glass-transition temperature of PAA. Thermogravimetric analysis revealed three stages of degradation of the synthesized CS-modified PAA polymers. The swelling ratio of the CS-modified PAA polymers depended on the pH value and had a maximum value in a buffer solution at pH 7. This was due to the changes in the morphological structure with the pH value.
Journal of Applied Polymer Science 109(5), pp.3382-3389