Homopolymer and small-molecule tracer diffusion in a gyroid matrix

Jodi M. Milhaupt, Timothy P. Lodge

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Forced Rayleigh scattering was used to measure the tracer diffusion coefficients of the photochromic dye tetrathioindigo (TTI) and a 1,4-polyisoprene (PI) homopolymer (8000 g/mol) in a poly(styrene-b-isoprene) (SI) diblock copolymer matrix that formed a bicontinuous gyroid microstructure. The diblock copolymer contained 63% polystyrene (PS) by volume and had a total molecular weight of 21,300 g/mol. Rheology and small-angle X-ray scattering confirmed that the diblock copolymer microphase-separated into the bicontinuous gyroid over the temperature range 60-230 °C, where the sample disordered. For both the TTI and PI tracers, two distinct modes of transport were observed. The faster mode displayed a temperature dependence consistent with diffusion within a PI matrix, whereas the slower mode had a temperature dependence more similar to diffusion within PS. The fast diffusivities were both over an order of magnitude lower than in a corresponding PI homopolymer matrix. For TTI, this was attributed to the preferential selectivity of the dye for PS and, therefore, an averaging of the mobility between the PS and PI domains. The slow mode was consistent with a small fraction of the TTI dye molecules becoming trapped within the much slower PS domains. For the PI tracer, the reduction in the diffusion coefficient for the fast mode was attributed to a combination of the tortuosity of the struts, the suppression of constraint release within the diblock matrix, and additional friction due to the presence of some styrene segments within the PI domains. The inevitable presence of grain boundaries or defects within the matrix interrupted the percolation of the PI struts, thereby forcing some of the PI tracers to diffuse through PS. Consequently, the slow mode was attributed to the diffusion through these defects, where the PI diffusion was retarded by both the increased segmental friction and the thermodynamic barrier to entering the PS domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-859
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2001


  • Block copolymer
  • Forced Rayleigh scattering
  • Gyroid
  • Tortuosity
  • Tracer diffusion


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