Role of Distance from Equilibrium in the Fragmentation Kinetics of Block Copolymer Micelles

Supriya Gupta, Lucy Liberman Solomon, Timothy p. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fragmentation kinetics of 1,2-polybutadiene-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (Mn = 17.2 kDa and fPEO = 0.38) block copolymer micelles have been examined with an emphasis on elucidating the role of driving force for micellar fragmentation, represented by the aggregation number ratio Q/Qeq. Large micelles with size Q > Qeq were formed in an ionic liquid [C2mim][TFSI] by the direct dissolution method. A broad range of Q/Qeq was then obtained by altering the solvent quality after micelle formation by addition of a second solvent, selected from a series of imidazolium-based ionic liquids [Cxmim][TFSI] with x = 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. In order to quantify the change in solvent quality by dilution, the interfacial tension γ between the different ionic liquids and 1,2-polybutadiene homopolymer was determined using the pendant drop method. Micelles in a solution diluted with a second ionic liquid with x ≥ 2 were equilibrated by high-temperature annealing at 170 °C, during which in situ dynamic light-scattering measurements were made to follow the decay of average micelle size with time. Micelles were further characterized using small-angle X-ray scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy to obtain micelle core size distributions. Qeq and γ were found to exhibit a power-law correlation, Qeq ∼ γ6/5, in accordance with the scaling prediction for star-like micelles. The reduction in γ on dilution with a lower γ solvent (x > 2) results in a smaller equilibrium micelle size, enabling access to a higher Q/Qeq, in the range from 1.1 to 5. The rate of fragmentation was found to increase significantly with an increase in Q/Qeq, thus the greater thermodynamic driving force leads to a systematic acceleration of fragmentation kinetics. The detailed mechanism by which micelles with Q ≫ Qeq achieve Qeq remains to be elucidated; the data suggest that it is not a sequential process but concerted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4874-4883
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 11 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Chemical Society.

MRSEC Support

  • Shared


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of Distance from Equilibrium in the Fragmentation Kinetics of Block Copolymer Micelles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this