Exfoliated nanocomposites based on polystyrene-block-polyisoprene-block-poly(2-vinylpyridine) (SI2VP triblock) copolymer were prepared by solution blending and melt blending. Their dispersion characteristics were investigated using transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). For the study, SI2VP triblock copolymers with varying amounts of poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP) block (3, 5, and 13 wt%) and different molecular weights were synthesized by sequential anionic polymerization. In the preparation of nanocomposites, four different commercial organoclays, treated with a surfactant having quaternary ammonium salt, were employed. It was found from SAXS that the microdomain structure of an SI2VP triblock copolymer having 13 wt% P2VP block (SI2VP-13) transformed from core-shell cylinders into lamellae when it was mixed with an organoclay. It was found further that the solution-blended nanocomposites based on a homogeneous SI2VP triblock copolymer having 5 wt% P2VP block (SI2VP-5) gave rise to an exfoliated morphology, irrespective of the differences in chemical structure of the surfactant residing at the surface of the organoclays, which is attributable to the presence of ion-dipole interactions between the positively charged N+ ion in the surfactant residing at the surface of the organoclay and the pyridine rings in the P2VP block of SI2VP-5 and SI2VP-13, respectively. Both solution- and melt-blended nanocomposites based on microphase-separated SI2VP-13 having an order-disorder transition temperature (TODT) of approximately 210 °C also gave rise to exfoliated morphology. However, melt-blended nanocomposite based on a high-molecular-weight SI2VP triblock copolymer having a very high TODT (estimated to be about 360 °C), which was much higher than the melt blending temperature employed (200 °C), gave rise to very poor dispersion of the aggregates of organoclay. It is concluded that the TODT of a block copolymer plays a significant role in determining the dispersion characteristics of organoclay nanocomposites prepared by melt blending.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
C. D. Han acknowledges with gratitude that this study was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant CST- 0406752 . J. K. Kim acknowledges the support of the National Creative Research Initiative Program by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea and the second stage of the BK21 program of Korea. Synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering experiments were performed at PLS beamlines 4C1 and 10C1 supported by POSCO and NRF.
- Block copolymer