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Polystyrene is an aromatic polymer that consist of a linear hydrocarbon chain with a benzene ring attached to every second carbon atom. Particles coated with polystyrene have a hydrophobic surface. This surface also encourages a stron physical adsorption of molecular species with hydrophobic regions. Surfactants and protein molecules stick strongly by passive adsorption.

By coating particles with a polystyrene shell (typically 10–20 nm thick), the particles can be dispersed in a wide range of polar organic solvents. This is our preferred method of transferring larger (10 nm and greater) diameter particles into organic solvents and hydrophobic composites.


  • The density of polystyrene is relatively low (1.055 g/cm3 at 20°C)
  • Refractive index of 1.59 at 590 nm
  • Soluble in benzene, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, cyclohexane, dimethylformamide, methylene chloride, pyridine, tetrahydrofuran, toluene, xylene
  • Insoluble in: Acetone, butane, ethanol, ether, methanol, hexane, phenol, propanol, water

Representative Source: polystyrene (Sigma Aldrich, XXXXX)

Comparison to Alternatives

  • Hydrophobic
  • Soluble in polar solvents


  • Integration into hydrophobic composites
  • Particle suspension in polar solvents