Core–Shell Gyroid in ABC Bottlebrush Block Terpolymers

Shuquan Cui, Bo Zhang, Liyang Shen, Frank S Bates, Timothy P. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Block polymer self-assembly provides a versatile platform for creating useful materials endowed with three-dimensional periodic network morphologies that support orthogonal physical properties such as high ionic conductivity and a high elastic modulus. However, coil configurations limit conventional linear block polymers to finite ordered network dimensions, which are further restricted by slow self-assembly kinetics at high molecular weights. A bottlebrush architecture can circumvent both shortcomings owing to extended backbone configurations due to side chain crowding and molecular dynamics substantially free of chain entanglements. However, until now, network morphologies have not been reported in AB bottlebrush block copolymers, notwithstanding favorable mean-field predictions. We explored the phase behavior by small-angle X-ray scattering of 133 poly(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b-polystyrene (PEP-PS) diblock and PEP-PS-PEO triblock bottlebrush copolymers prepared by ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) of norbornene-functionalized poly(ethylene-alt-propylene) (PEP), poly(styrene) (PS), and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) macromonomers with total backbone degrees of polymerization Nbb between 20 and 40. The PEP-PS diblocks exhibited only cylindrical and lamellar morphologies over the composition range of ca. 30-70%. However, addition of variable-length bottlebrush PEO blocks to diblocks containing 30-50% PS led to the formation of a substantial core-shell double gyroid (GYR) phase window containing 20 bottlebrush triblock specimens, which is the focus of this report. Encouragingly, the GYR unit cell dimensions increased as d ∼Nbb0.92, portending the ability to access larger network dimensions than previously obtained with linear AB or ABC block polymers. This work highlights extraordinary opportunities associated with applying facile ROMP chemistry to multiblock bottlebrush polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21719-21727
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 30 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the University of Minnesota MRSEC under Award DMR-2011401. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program. Synchrotron SAXS experiments were performed at the 12-ID-B beamlines of the Advanced Photon Source (APS). This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357. We thank Prof. Mahesh Mahanthappa for fruitful discussions and Dr. Qiming He for help with the esterification reaction.

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© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

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