We have developed a novel synthesis method for size-controlled polymer nanoparticles using soap-free emulsion polymerization. This new synthetic method involves sequential ultrasonic irradiation (20 kHz → 500 kHz → 1.6 MHz → 2.4 MHz) for acoustic emulsification of a water-insoluble monomer such as methylmethacrylate (MMA) in an aqueous medium, followed by emulsion polymerization in the obtained solution without using any surfactants. The sequential ultrasonication (tandem acoustic emulsification) could provide a clear and stable emulsified solution containing monomer droplets with relatively narrow size distribution in the nanometer range. The subsequent polymerization in this solution yielded size-controlled polymer nanoparticles. Furthermore, colloidal crystal films could be easily prepared from the as-polymerized nanoparticle solution using the fluidic-cell method.
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