Polydispersity effects in poly(isoprene- b -styrene- b -ethylene oxide) triblock terpolymers

Adam J. Meuler, Christopher J. Ellison, Jian Qin, Christopher M. Evans, Marc A. Hillmyer, Frank S. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Four hydroxyl-terminated poly(isoprene- b -styrene) diblock copolymers with comparable molecular weights and compositions (equivalent volume fractions of polyisoprene and polystyrene) but different polystyrene block polydispersity indices (M w / M n =1.06,1.16,1.31,1.44) were synthesized by anionic polymerization using either sec-butyllithium or the functional organolithium 3-triisopropylsilyloxy-1-propyllithium. Poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) blocks were grown from the end of each of these parent diblocks to yield four series of poly(isoprene- b -styrene- b -ethylene oxide) (ISO) triblock terpolymers that were used to interrogate the effects of varying the polydispersity of the middle bridged polystyrene block. In addition to the neat triblock samples, 13 multicomponent blends were prepared at four different compositions from the ISO materials containing a polystyrene segment with M w / M n =1.06; these blends were used to probe the effects of increasing the polydispersity of the terminal PEO block. The melt-phase behavior of all samples was characterized using small-angle X-ray scattering and dynamic mechanical spectroscopy. Numerous polydispersity-driven morphological transitions are reported, including transitions from lamellae to core-shell gyroid, from core-shell gyroid to hexagonally packed cylinders, and from network morphologies [either O 70 (the orthorhombic Fddd network) or core-shell gyroid] to lamellae. Domain periodicities and order-disorder transition temperatures also vary with block polydispersities. Self-consistent field theory calculations were performed to supplement the experimental investigations and help elucidate the molecular factors underlying the polydispersity effects. The consequences of varying the polydispersity of the terminal PEO block are comparable to the polydispersity effects previously reported in AB diblock copolymers. Namely, domain periodicities increase with increasing polydispersity and domain interfaces tend to curve toward polydisperse blocks. The changes in phase behavior that are associated with variations in the polydispersity of the middle bridged polystyrene block, however, are not analogous to those reported in AB diblock copolymers, as increases in this middle block polydispersity are not always accompanied by (i) increased domain periodicities and (ii) a tendency for domain interfaces to curve toward the polydisperse domain. These results highlight the utility of polydispersity as a tool to tune the phase behavior of ABC block terpolymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234903
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Department of Energy through Grant No. 5-35908 and through a subcontract to UT-Battelle (Grant No. 4000041622). We also acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. NSF DMR–0704192). Graduate fellowships to A.J.M. from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are gratefully acknowledged. Portions of this work were performed at the DuPont-Northwestern-Dow Collaborative Access Team (DND-CAT) located at Sector 5 of the Advanced Photon Source (APS). DND-CAT is supported by E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., The Dow Chemical Company, and the State of Illinois. Use of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. We thank Professor David C. Morse for providing his group’s SCFT code and thank Professor Thomas R. Hoye for use of his group's ozonolysis equipment.


Dive into the research topics of 'Polydispersity effects in poly(isoprene- b -styrene- b -ethylene oxide) triblock terpolymers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this