Cornucopia of Nanoscale Ordered Phases in Sphere-Forming Tetrablock Terpolymers

Siddharth Chanpuriya, Kyungtae Kim, Jingwen Zhang, Sangwoo Lee, Akash Arora, Kevin D. Dorfman, Kris T. Delaney, Glenn H. Fredrickson, Frank S. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


We report the phase behavior of a series of poly(styrene)-b-poly(isoprene)-b-poly(styrene)′-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (SIS′O) tetrablock terpolymers. This study was motivated by self-consistent field theory (SCFT) calculations that anticipate a rich array of sphere-forming morphologies with variations in the molecular symmetry parameter τ = NS/(NS + NS′), where N is the block degree of polymerization and the volume fraction of O is less than about 0.22. Eight SIS′O samples, with τ ranging from 0.21 to 0.73, were synthesized and investigated using small-angle X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy, yielding evidence of nine different spherical phases: hexagonal, FCC, HCP, BCC, rhombohedral (tentative), liquid-like packing, dodecagonal quasicrystal, and Frank-Kasper σ and A15 phases. At temperatures close to the order-disorder transition, these tetrablocks behave as pseudo-[SIS′]-O diblocks and form equilibrium morphologies mediated by facile chain exchange between micelles. Transition from equilibrium to nonequilibrium behavior occurs at a temperature (Terg) several tens of degrees below the order-disorder transition temperature, speculated to be coincident with the loss of ergodicity, as chain exchange is arrested due to increased segregation strength between the core (O) and corona (SIS′) blocks. Nonequilibrium ordered structures form when T < Terg; these are interpreted using SCFT calculations to elucidate the free energy landscape driving ordering in the S and I block matrix. These experiments demonstrate a profound dependence on phase stability with variations in τ and temperature, providing insights into the formation of ordered phase symmetry in this class of asymmetric multiblock polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4961-4972
Number of pages12
JournalACS nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 24 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Grant Nos. DMR-1333669 and DMR-1332842 in the DMREF Program. We thank M. Mahanthappa for illuminating discussions and informative comments on the manuscript. Portions of this work were performed at the DuPont-Northwestern-Dow Collaborative Access Team (DND-CAT) located at Sector 5 of the Advanced Photon Source (APS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Frank-Kasper phases
  • multiblock polymer
  • phase behavior
  • quasicrystal
  • self-consistent-field theory

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Shared

Reporting period for MRSEC

  • Period 3

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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