skip to main content


Title: Stability of the A15 phase in diblock copolymer melts
The self-assembly of block polymers into well-ordered nanostructures underpins their utility across fundamental and applied polymer science, yet only a handful of equilibrium morphologies are known with the simplest AB-type materials. Here, we report the discovery of the A15 sphere phase in single-component diblock copolymer melts comprising poly(dodecyl acrylate)− block −poly(lactide). A systematic exploration of phase space revealed that A15 forms across a substantial range of minority lactide block volume fractions ( f L = 0.25 − 0.33) situated between the σ-sphere phase and hexagonally close-packed cylinders. Self-consistent field theory rationalizes the thermodynamic stability of A15 as a consequence of extreme conformational asymmetry. The experimentally observed A15−disorder phase transition is not captured using mean-field approximations but instead arises due to composition fluctuations as evidenced by fully fluctuating field-theoretic simulations. This combination of experiments and field-theoretic simulations provides rational design rules that can be used to generate unique, polymer-based mesophases through self-assembly.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1725797
NSF-PAR ID:
10108432
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume:
116
Issue:
27
ISSN:
0027-8424
Page Range / eLocation ID:
13194 to 13199
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. A nanoporous Ni/NiO/C nanocomposite with a gyroid nanostructure was fabricated by using a nanoporous polymer with gyroid nanochannels as a template. The polymer template was obtained from the self-assembly of a degradable block copolymer, polystyrene- b -poly( l -lactide) (PS-PLLA), followed by the hydrolysis of PLLA blocks. Templated electroless plating followed by calcination was performed to create a precisely controlled Ni/NiO gyroid nanostructure. After carbon coating, a well-interconnected nanoporous gyroid Ni/NiO/C nanocomposite can be successfully fabricated. Benefiting from the well-interconnected nanoporous structure with ultrafine transition metal oxide and uniform carbon coating, the gyroid nanoporous Ni/NiO/C nanocomposite electrodes exhibited high specific capacities at various rates (1240 mA h g −1 at 0.2 A g −1 , 902 mA h g −1 at 2 A g −1 and 424 mA h g −1 at 10 A g −1 ) and excellent cyclability (809 mA h g −1 at 1 A g −1 after 1000 cycles, average coulombic efficiency 99.86%). This research demonstrates a universal approach for constructing a nanostructured electrode with explicitly controlled block copolymer phase separation. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Polymerization‐induced self‐assembly (PISA) has emerged as a scalable one‐pot technique to prepare block copolymer (BCP) nanoparticles. Recently, a PISA process, that results in poly(l‐lactide)‐b‐poly(ethylene glycol) BCP nanoparticles coined ring‐opening polymerization (ROP)‐induced crystallization‐driven self‐assembly (ROPI‐CDSA), was developed. The resulting nanorods demonstrate a strong propensity for aggregation, resulting in the formation of 2D sheets and 3D networks. This article reports the synthesis of poly(N,N‐dimethyl acrylamide)‐b‐poly(l)‐lactide BCP nanoparticles by ROPI‐CDSA, utilizing a two‐step, one‐pot approach. A dual‐functionalized photoiniferter is first used for controlled radical polymerization of the acrylamido‐based monomer, and the resulting polymer serves as a macroinitiator for organocatalyzed ROP to form the solvophobic polyester block. The resulting nanorods are highly stable and display anisotropy at higher molecular weights (>12k Da) and concentrations (>20% solids) than the previous report. This development expands the chemical scope of ROPI‐CDSA BCPs and provides readily accessible nanorods made with biocompatible materials.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Block copolymer brushes are of great interest due to their rich phase behavior and value‐added properties compared to homopolymer brushes. Traditional synthesis involves grafting‐to and grafting‐from methods. In this work, a recently developed “polymer‐single‐crystal‐assisted‐grafting‐to” method is applied for the preparation of block copolymer brushes on flat glass surfaces. Triblock copolymer poly(ethylene oxide)‐b‐poly(l‐lactide)‐b‐poly(3‐(triethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate) (PEO‐b‐PLLA‐b‐PTESPMA) is synthesized with PLLA as the brush morphology‐directing component and PTESPMA as the anchoring block. PEO‐b‐PLLA block copolymer brushes are obtained by chemical grafting of the triblock copolymer single crystals onto a glass surface. The tethering point and overall brush pattern are determined by the single crystal morphology. The grafting density is calculated to be ≈0.36 nm−2from the atomic force microscopy results and is consistent with the theoretic calculation based on the PLLA crystalline lattice. This work provides a new strategy to synthesize well‐defined block copolymer brushes.

     
    more » « less
  4. A delicate balance of noncovalent interactions directs the hierarchical self-assembly of molecular amphiphiles into spherical micelles that pack into three-dimensional periodic arrays, which mimic intermetallic crystals. Herein, we report the discovery that adding water to a mixture of an ionic surfactant andn-decane induces aperiodic ordering of oil-swollen spherical micelles into previously unrecognized, aqueous lyotropic dodecagonal quasicrystals (DDQCs), which exhibit local 12-fold rotational symmetry and no long-range translational order. The emergence of these DDQCs at the nexus of dynamically arrested micellar glasses and a periodic Frank–Kasper (FK) σ phase approximant sensitively depends on the mixing order of molecular constituents in the assembly process and on sample thermal history. Addition ofn-decane to mixtures of surfactant and water instead leads only to periodic FK A15 and σ approximants with no evidence for aperiodic order, while extended ambient temperature annealing of the DDQC also reveals its transformation into a σ phase. Thus, these lyotropic DDQCs are long-lived metastable morphologies, which nucleate and grow from a stochastic distribution of micelle sizes formed by abrupt segregation of varied amounts of oil into surfactant micelles on hydration. These findings indicate that molecular building block complexity is not a prerequisite for the formation of aperiodic supramolecular order, while also establishing the generic nature of quasicrystalline states across metal alloys and self-assembled micellar materials.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Clinical application of injectable, thermoresponsive hydrogels is hindered by lack of degradability and controlled drug release. To overcome these challenges, a family of thermoresponsive, ABC triblock polymer‐based hydrogels has been engineered to degrade and release drug cargo through either oxidative or hydrolytic/enzymatic mechanisms dictated by the “A” block composition. Three ABC triblock copolymers are synthesized with varying “A” blocks, including oxidation‐sensitive poly(propylene sulfide), slow hydrolytically/enzymatically degradable poly(ε‐caprolactone), and fast hydrolytically/enzymatically degradable poly(d,l‐lactide‐co‐glycolide), forming the respective formulations PPS135b‐PDMA152b‐PNIPAAM225(PDN), PCL85b‐PDMA150b‐PNIPAAM150(CDN), and PLGA60b‐PDMA148b‐PNIPAAM152(LGDN). For all three polymers, hydrophilic poly(N,N‐dimethylacrylamide) and thermally responsive poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide) comprise the “B” and “C” blocks, respectively. These copolymers form micelles in aqueous solutions at ambient temperature that can be preloaded with small molecule drugs. These solutions quickly transition into hydrogels upon heating to 37 °C, forming a supra‐assembly of physically crosslinked, drug‐loaded micelles. PDN hydrogels are selectively degraded under oxidative conditions while CDN and LGDN hydrogels are inert to oxidation but show differential rates of hydrolytic/enzymatic decomposition. All three hydrogels are cytocompatible in vitro and in vivo, and drug‐loaded hydrogels demonstrate differential release kinetics in vivo corresponding with their specific degradation mechanism. These collective data highlight the potential cell and drug delivery use of this tunable class of ABC triblock polymer thermogels.

     
    more » « less