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Structural Transformation of Diblock Copolymer/Homopolymer Assemblies by Tuning Cylindrical Confinement and Interfacial Interactions

Xu, Jiangping, Wang, Ke, Liang, Ruijing, Yang, Yi, Zhou, Huamin, Xie, Xiaolin, Zhu, Jintao
Langmuir 2015 v.31 no.45 pp. 12354-12361
aluminum oxide, annealing, composite polymers, molecular weight, nanopores, nanorods, porous media, solvents, surfactants
In this study, we report the controllable structural transformation of block copolymer/homopolymer binary blends in cylindrical nanopores. Polystyrene-b-poly(4-vinylpyridine)/homopolystyrene (SVP/hPS) nanorods (NRs) can be fabricated by pouring the polymers into an anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) channel and isolated by selective removal of the AAO membrane. In this two-dimensional (2D) confinement, SVP self-assembles into NRs with concentric lamellar structure, and the internal structure can be tailored with the addition of hPS. We show that the weight fraction and molecular weight of hPS and the diameter of the channels can significantly affect the internal structure of the NRs. Moreover, mesoporous materials with tunable pore shape, size, and packing style can be prepared by selective solvent swelling of the structured NRs. In addition, these NRs can transform into spherical structures through solvent-absorption annealing, triggering the conversion from 2D to 3D confinement. More importantly, the transformation dynamics can be tuned by varying the preference property of surfactant to the polymers. It is proven that the shape and internal structure of the polymer particles are dominated by the interfacial interactions governed by the surfactants.