Micelle and Aggregate Formation in Amphiphilic Block Copolymer Solutions
Clover, Bryna Christine
Greer, Sandra C
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The amphiphilic nature of many block copolymers causes self-aggregation and micelle formation in solvents that are miscible with only one of the block polymers (selective solvents). Micelle and aggregate formation of amphiphilic block copolymers in selective solvents is a function of temperature and concentration. Such self-aggregation has been examined here in a variety of block copolymer systems. In dilute solutions of Pluronic P85 (PEO<sub>26</sub>PPO<sub>40</sub>PEO<sub>26</sub>) (where PEO is poly(ethylene oxide) and PPO is poly(propylene oxide)) in D<sub>2</sub>O, transitions between clustered unimers, spherical micelles, cylindrical micelles, and finally lamellar micelles were observed with increasing temperature. The effect of pressure on this system was examined through small angle neutron scattering (SANS) techniques. At temperatures above 95 <super>o</super>C, a new phase of “demixed lamellae” was observed. Pressure effects on the transition temperatures between the phases of this system were investigated. The self-aggregation of Reverse Pluronic 17R4 (PPO<sub>14</sub>PEO<sub>24</sub>PPO<sub>14</sub>) in D<sub>2</sub>O has also been examined. The phase diagram of this system was determined through visual cloud-point techniques. Three distinct regions have been observed in solutions of this system, as a function of temperature and concentration: a cloudy, one-phase region; a clear, one-phase system; and a region of phase separation. Copolymer structures were examined in the clear and cloudy one-phase regions through SANS and dynamic light scattering (DLS) techniques. A network, or clustering, of unimers was observed in the cloudy phase. Aggregates in the clear, one-phase region could not be identified definitively as micelles. Finally, micellization of PEO<sub>132</sub>-PB<sub>89</sub> (where PB is polybutadiene) has been studied in solutions of deuterated methanol and deuterated cyclohexane. Spherical micelles were observed in solutions of deuterated methanol. These micelles change little in size or shape over a 50 <super>o</super>C temperature span. The difference in aggregates in protonated and deuterated solvents was also examined. In deuterated cyclohexane, the copolymer formed flexible, cylindrical micelles below 40 <super>o</super>C. These micelles became spherical in shape at higher temperatures.