Micellization and micellar aggregation of poly(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b- poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) triblock terpolymers in water

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Abstract

Three poly(ethylene-alt-propylene)-b-poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(N- isopropylacrylamide) (PEP-PEO-PNIPAm, "PON") triblock terpolymers were synthesized using a combination of anionic and reversible addition- fragmentation chain transfer polymerization, and their micellization and micellar aggregation properties in dilute aqueous solution were studied by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and cryo-TEM. The PEP and PEO blocks had molecular weights of 3000 and 25-000, respectively, while the PNIPAm block was varied with molecular weights equal to 4000, 10-000, and 21-000. In dilute aqueous solution the terpolymers formed well-defined micelles with hydrophobic PEP cores surrounded by hydrophilic PEO-PNIPAm coronas at temperatures below the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of PNIPAm. DLS revealed that the PON micelles prepared by a dialysis technique were significantly smaller than those prepared by a thin-film hydration technique. In either case, at temperatures above the LCST of PNIPAm, the micelles associated to form larger aggregated structures. The critical micellar aggregation temperature for these PON triblock terpolymers was higher than the typical LCST for a PNIPAm homopolymer and depended on the PNIPAm block length and polymer concentration. As the molecular weight of PNIPAm decreased from 21-000 to 4000, the critical micellar aggregation temperature increased from 36 °C to above 60 °C. The critical micellar aggregation temperature was also higher at lower polymer concentrations. These results demonstrate how the inclusion of a temperature-sensitive endblock in a linear ABC triblock terpolymer with a strongly hydrophobic component can lead to tunable and reversible micellar aggregation behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1635-1641
Number of pages7
JournalMacromolecules
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 22 2011

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