Cylinders-in-Undulating-Lamellae Morphology from ABC Bottlebrush Block Terpolymers

Shuquan Cui, Wei Zhang, Aristotelis Zografos, Liyang Shen, Frank S Bates, Tim Lodge

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Block polymer self-assembly affords a versatile bottom-up strategy to develop materials with the desired properties dictated by specific symmetries and dimensions. Owing to distinct properties compared with linear counterparts, bottlebrush block polymers with side chains densely grafted on a backbone have attracted extensive attention. However, the morphologies found in bottlebrush block polymers so far are limited, and only lamellar and cylindrical ordered phases have been reported in diblock bottlebrushes. The absence of complex morphologies, such as networks, might originate from the intrinsically stiff backbone architecture. We experimentally investigated the morphologies of nonfrustrated ABC bottlebrush block terpolymers, based on two chemistries, poly(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b-polystyrene-b-poly(dl-lactic acid) (PEP-PS-PLA) and PEP-b-PS-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (PEP-PS-PEO), synthesized by ring-opening metathesis polymerization of norbornene-terminated macromonomers. Structural characterization based on small-angle X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy measurements revealed an unprecedented cylinders-in-undulating-lamellae (CUL) morphology with p2 symmetry for both systems. Additionally, automated liquid chromatography was employed to fractionate the PEP-PS-PLA bottlebrush polymer, leading to fractions with a spectrum of morphologies, including the CUL. These findings underscore the significance of macromolecular dispersity in nominally narrow dispersity bottlebrush polymers while demonstrating the power of this fractionation technique.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6796-6805
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society®
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 13 2024

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