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Kinetically Controlled Self-Assembly of Block Copolymers into Segmented Wormlike Micelles in Microfluidic Chips

Tan, Zhengping, Lan, Wei, Liu, Qianqian, Wang, Ke, Hussain, Mubashir, Ren, Min, Geng, Zhen, Zhang, Lianbin, Luo, Xiaobing, Zhang, Lixiong, Zhu, Jintao
Langmuir 2018 v.35 no.1 pp. 141-149
colloids, composite polymers, electron microscopy, micelles, mixing, nanocapsules, pyridines, thermodynamics
Kinetically controlled self-assembly of block copolymers (BCPs) in solution is an efficient route to fabricate complex hierarchical colloids which are of great importance for nanoencapsulation, microreactors, and biomimics. Herein, segmented wormlike micelles (SWMs) with controllable size are generated by the self-assembly of polystyrene-block-poly(4-vinyl pyridine) in microfluidic channel. Different from the assembly of BCPs off-chip at the same solution properties, it is found that the fabricated SWMs are kinetically controlled assemblies with thermodynamic metastable structures, which are formed by the orderly aggregation of preformed spherical micelles because of the fast mixing process in microfluidic channels. Moreover, by manipulating the total flow velocity of water and BCPs solution or their flow velocity ratio, both of the percentages of SWMs among the whole assemblies and their sizes can be effectively tuned. On the basis of electron microscopy and dynamic light scatting investigations, a product diagram of micellar morphologies associated to initial polymer concentration and flow velocity ratio of water/BCPs solution was constructed, which is important for the rational design and fabrication of complex hierarchical BCP colloids.