Molecular Engineering of Nanostructures in Disordered Block Polymers

Nicholas Hampu, Marc A. Hillmyer

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A series of symmetric poly(methyl methacrylate-stat-styrene)-block-polylactide (P(MMA-s-S)-b-PLA) diblock terpolymers with nearly constant molar masses yet varying block interaction parameters were synthesized as a model system to probe the extent and utility of composition fluctuations in the disordered state. A combination of differential scanning calorimetry, dynamic mechanical analysis, and small-angle X-ray scattering revealed that a broad range of segregation strengths ranging from what we ascribe to essentially a mean-field disordered to a fluctuating disordered to an ordered system could be readily obtained by tuning the molar fraction of styrene in these diblocks. The P(MMA-s-S)-b-PLA diblocks were annealed above their order-disorder transition temperatures (TODT) and rapidly quenched to low temperatures to trap the disordered state via vitrification, as confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. Small-angle X-ray scattering and N2 sorption analysis post-removal of PLA demonstrated that a transition from a very weakly structured, mean-field-like melt to a bicontinuous fluctuating disordered state occurred with increasing segregation strength. This work demonstrates that the extent of microphase segregation as well as the domain continuity of the disordered block polymer melt can be tuned using both synthetic design and thermal stimuli, guiding the design of disordered block polymers with targeted nanostructures that have potential technological utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-388
Number of pages7
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 17 2020

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    Lodge, T. P.


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