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BASELINE CHARACTERIZATION OF EXPANDABLE POLYSTYRENE BEADS

The inventors have developed a procedure in order to observe the internal structure of polystyrene beads prior to pre-expansion. In the first attempts, a thermalsetting epoxy was used; however, indications are that the heat produced from this epoxy causes the raw beads (beads that have not yet been pre-expanded) to start the preexpansion process. Therefore, a cold-setting epoxy is now used and no pre-expansion has been observed in the raw beads. It is believed that any cold setting adhesive will work in this process. The setting of raw beads in cold-setting epoxy is shown in Figure 1 as an example.

(a) (b) Figure 1: Internal structure of one raw bead using the (a) thermal setting-epoxy and (b) cold-setting epoxy. PROCEDURE: 1) Pour an amount of raw polystyrene or other polymeric foam beads into a suitable container, such as a cup. 2) In a separate container, prepare the cold-setting epoxy or other suitable adhesive to the suppliers specifications 3) Transfer the adhesive into the cup with the raw polymer beads 4) Gently stir beads for a time sufficient to adequately coat beads with adhesive 5) Pour adhesive-bead mixture into capsules making sure to minimize the presence of air bubbles in the mixture. 6) Allow capsule with adhesive-bead mixture to set a sufficient amount of time to cure adhesive. 7) Section the adhesive-bead mixture with a microtome, a razor blade, or other suitable sectioning device. 8) Place the sections onto a copper TEM grid or other means to properly examine sections 9) Mount the grids onto a sample holder

10) Coat the samples with a layer of gold or other suitable substance. Currently a 1nm thick of gold is preferred but other thicknesses and other substances are expected to work adequately. This procedure can be used to capture images of the internal structure of raw polystyrene beads for analysis. The properties of these beads may also be obtained from inspection.