skip to main content

Title: Thermoresponsive polymer assemblies via variable temperature liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy and small angle X-ray scattering
Abstract

Herein, phase transitions of a class of thermally-responsive polymers, namely a homopolymer, diblock, and triblock copolymer, were studied to gain mechanistic insight into nanoscale assembly dynamics via variable temperature liquid-cell transmission electron microscopy (VT-LCTEM) correlated with variable temperature small angle X-ray scattering (VT-SAXS). We study thermoresponsive poly(diethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate) (PDEGMA)-based block copolymers and mitigate sample damage by screening electron flux and solvent conditions during LCTEM and by evaluating polymer survival viapost-mortemmatrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS). Our multimodal approach, utilizing VT-LCTEM with MS validation and VT-SAXS, is generalizable across polymeric systems and can be used to directly image solvated nanoscale structures and thermally-induced transitions. Our strategy of correlating VT-SAXS with VT-LCTEM provided direct insight into transient nanoscale intermediates formed during the thermally-triggered morphological transformation of a PDEGMA-based triblock. Notably, we observed the temperature-triggered formation and slow relaxation of core-shell particles with complex microphase separation in the core by both VT-SAXS and VT-LCTEM.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1905270
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10305678
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Volume:
12
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Directing polymer self-assembly through noncovalent interactions is a powerful way to control the structure and function of nanoengineered materials. Dynamic hydrogen bonds are particularly useful for materials with structures that change over time or in response to specific stimuli. In the present work, we use the supramolecular association of urea moieties to manipulate the morphology, thermal response, and mechanical properties of soft polymeric hydrogels. Urea-terminated poly(isopropyl glycidyl ether)- b -poly(ethylene oxide)- b -poly(isopropyl glycidyl ether) ABA triblock copolymers were synthesized using controlled, anionic ring-opening polymerization and subsequent chain-end functionalization. Triblock copolymers with hydroxy end-groups were incapable of hydrogelation, while polymers terminated with meta -bis-urea motifs formed robust gels at room temperature. Rheometric analysis of the bulk gels, variable-temperature infrared spectroscopy (VT-IR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) confirmed the formation of structured hydrogels via association of the meta -bis-urea end-groups. Monourea end-groups did not result in the same regular structure as the meta -bis-urea. In future, the reported hydrogels could be useful for elastomeric, shape-morphing 3D-printed constructs, or as biomimetic scaffolds with precisely tailored porosity and mechanical properties.
  2. Abstract
    Site description. This data package consists of data obtained from sampling surface soil (the 0-7.6 cm depth profile) in black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) dominated forest and black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus) saltmarsh along the Gulf of Mexico coastline in peninsular west-central Florida, USA. This location has a subtropical climate with mean daily temperatures ranging from 15.4 °C in January to 27.8 °C in August, and annual precipitation of 1336 mm. Precipitation falls as rain primarily between June and September. Tides are semi-diurnal, with 0.57 m median amplitudes during the year preceding sampling (U.S. NOAA National Ocean Service, Clearwater Beach, Florida, station 8726724). Sea-level rise is 4.0 ± 0.6 mm per year (1973-2020 trend, mean ± 95 % confidence interval, NOAA NOS Clearwater Beach station). The A. germinans mangrove zone is either adjacent to water or fringed on the seaward side by a narrow band of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). A near-monoculture of J. roemerianus is often adjacent to and immediately landward of the A. germinans zone. The transition from the mangrove to the J. roemerianus zone is variable in our study area. An abrupt edge between closed-canopy mangrove and J. roemerianus monoculture may extend for up to several hundred metersMore>>
  3. Herein, we present the direct modification of glucose, an abundant and inexpensive sugar molecule, to produce new sustainable and functional polymers. Glucose-6-acrylate-1,2,3,4-tetraacetate (GATA) has been synthesized and shown to provide a useful glassy component for developing an innovative family of elastomeric and adhesive materials. A series of diblock and triblock copolymers of GATA and n -butyl acrylate (n-BA) were created via Reversible Addition–Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerization. Initially, poly(GATA)- b -poly(n-BA) copolymers were prepared using 4-cyano-4-[(ethylsulfanylthiocarbonyl)sulfanyl] pentanoic acid (CEP) as a chain transfer agent (CTA). These diblock copolymers demonstrated decomposition temperatures of 275 °C or greater and two glass transition temperatures ( T g ) around −45 °C and 100 °C corresponding to the PnBA and PGATA domains, respectively, as measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Triblock copolymers of GATA and n-BA, with moderate dispersities ( Đ = 1.15–1.29), were successfully synthesized when S , S -dibenzyl trithiocarbonate (DTC) was employed as the CTA. Poly(GATA)- b -poly(nBA)- b -poly(GATA) copolymers with 14–58 wt% GATA were prepared and demonstrated excellent thermomechanical properties ( T d ≥ 279 °C). Two well-separated glass transitions near the values for homopolymers of n-BA and GATA (∼−45 °C and ∼100 °C, respectively) were measured by DSC.more »The triblock with 14% GATA exhibited peel adhesion of 2.31 N cm −1 (when mixed with 30 wt% tackifier) that is superior to many commercial pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs). Use of 3,5-bis(2-dodecylthiocarbonothioylthio-1oxopropoxy)benzoic acid (BTCBA) as the CTA provided a more efficient route to copolymerize GATA and n-BA. Using BTCBA, poly(GATA)- b -poly(nBA)- b -poly(GATA) triblock copolymers containing 12–25 wt% GATA, with very narrow molar mass distributions ( Đ ≤ 1.08), were prepared. The latter series of triblock copolymers showed excellent thermal stability with T d ≥ 275 °C. Only the T g for the PnBA block was observed by DSC (∼−45 °C), however, phase-separation was confirmed by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) for all of these triblock copolymers. The mechanical behavior of the polymers was investigated by tensile experiments and the triblock with 25% GATA content demonstrated moderate elastomeric properties, 573 kPa stress at break and 171% elongation. This study introduces a new family of glucose-based ABA-type copolymers and demonstrates functionality of a glucose-based feedstock for developing green polymeric materials.« less
  4. Abstract

    We present experimental evidence for a new mechanism for how smooth surfaces emerge during repetitive sliding contacts, as in polishing. Electron microscopy observations of Ti-6Al-4V surface with a spherical asperity structure—realized via additive manufacturing—during successive polishing stages suggest that asperity-abrasive contacts exhibit viscous behavior, where the asperity material flows in the form of thin (1–10 μm) fluid-like layers. Subsequent bridging of these layers among neighboring asperities results in progressive surface smoothening. Using analytical asperity-abrasive contact temperature modeling and microstructural characterization, we show that the sliding contacts encounter flash temperatures of the order of 700–900 K which is in the range of the dynamic recrystallization temperature of the material considered, thus supporting the experimental observations. Besides providing a new perspective on the long-held mechanism of polishing, our observations provide a novel approach based on graph theory to quantitatively characterize the evolution of surface morphology. Results suggest that the graph representation offers a more efficient measure to characterize the surface morphology emerging at various stages of polishing. The research findings and observations are of broad relevance to the understanding of plastic flow behavior of sliding contacts ubiquitous in materials processing, tribology, and natural geological processes as well as present unique opportunities to tailormore »the microstructures by controlling the thermomechanics of the asperity-abrasive contacts.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) use a conserved radical-based mechanism to catalyze the conversion of ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides. Within the RNR family, class Ib RNRs are notable for being largely restricted to bacteria, including many pathogens, and for lacking an evolutionarily mobile ATP-cone domain that allosterically controls overall activity. In this study, we report the emergence of a distinct and unexpected mechanism of activity regulation in the sole RNR of the model organismBacillus subtilis. Using a hypothesis-driven structural approach that combines the strengths of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), crystallography, and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), we describe the reversible interconversion of six unique structures, including a flexible active tetramer and two inhibited helical filaments. These structures reveal the conformational gymnastics necessary for RNR activity and the molecular basis for its control via an evolutionarily convergent form of allostery.