Ion exchange materials find numerous large-scale industrial applications in various fields, such as water treatment processes, catalysis, and some others. The efficiency of the use of ion exchangers in some instances can be substantially improved by tailored modification of commercially available ion exchange materials with, for example, functional metal nanoparticles (FMNPs) .
The modification of ion exchangers with FMNPs can be carried out by using the intermatrix synthesis (IMS) technique coupled with the Donnan exclusion effect. Such combination allows for production of polymer-metal nanocomposites with the distribution of FMNPs near the surface of the polymer on what appears to be the most favorable in their practical applications. This technique has been used to modify the polymers with cation exchange functionality with FMNPs by using the procedure described by the following sequential stages: (1) immobilization (sorption) of metal or metal complex ions (FMNP precursors) onto the functional groups of the polymer and (2) their chemical or electrochemical reduction inside the polymer matrix (IMS stage) [2–7].
The use of the functional polymers as supports for the metal nanoparticles (MNPs) and metal oxide nanoparticles has, in this sense, one more important advantage dealing with the possibility to synthesize the FMNPs directly at the ‘point of use’ , i.e., inside the supporting polymer, which results in turn in the formation of the polymer-metal nanocomposites (PMNCs) with desired functionality [8–11].
Ag, due to its antibacterial features, represents one of the hot topics of investigation in the noble metal research. The unusual properties of nanometric scale materials in comparison with those of their macro counterparts give in many instances a number of advantages in their practical applications [12–14]. In fact, Ag-MNPs are widely used due to their more efficient antimicrobial activity in comparison with bulk silver . Some of our previous studies were dealt with the IMS of Ag-NPs in different polymer matrices and application of resulting PMNCs for bactericide water treatment [2, 3]. Essentially, in all publications dedicated to the synthesis and application of Ag-MNPs in various supporting polymers, the main attention was paid to the properties of MNPs, i.e., to the properties of just one component of PMNCs, which are determined by PMNC components: the polymer matrix, the NPs, as well as the interaction between them.
In this communication, we report the results obtained by studying the properties of the polymer component of FMNPs composed of Ag-MNPs and Purolite C100E resin of the gel type. It has been shown that IMS of Ag-MNPs in a gel-type polymer results in the dramatic changes of its morphology.