Block Copolymer Strands with Internal Microphase Separation Structure via Self-Assembly at the Air-Water Interface

Department of Chemistry, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3065, Victoria, BC V8W 3V6, Canada.
Langmuir (Impact Factor: 4.46). 07/2009; 25(11):6398-406. DOI: 10.1021/la804317s
Source: PubMed


Block copolymer microphase separation in the bulk is coupled to amphiphilic block copolymer self-assembly at the air-water interface to yield hierarchical Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) structures combining organization at the meso- and nanoscales. A blend of polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (PS-b-PEO) (Mn=141K, 11.4 wt % PEO) and polystyrene-b-poly(butadiene) (PS-b-PB) (Mn=31.9K, 28.5 wt % PB) containing a PS-b-PB weight fraction of f=0.75 was deposited at the air-water interface, resulting in the spontaneous generation of aggregates with multiscale organization, including nanoscale cylinders in mesoscale strands, via evaporation of the spreading solvent. The resulting features were characterized in LB films via AFM and TEM and at the air-water interface via Langmuir compression isotherms. Blends containing lower PS-b-PB contents formed mesoscale aggregate morphologies of continents and strands (f=0.50) or mesoscale continents with holes (f=0.25), but without the internal nanoscale organization found in the f=0.75 blend. The interfacial self-assembly of pure PS-b-PB at the air-water interface (f=1) yielded taller and more irregularly shaped aggregates than blends containing PS-b-PEO, indicating the integral role of the amphiphilic copolymer in regulating the mesoscale organization of the hierarchically structured features.

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