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This thesis discusses two systems. One is structured hydrogels which are hydrogel systems based on crosslinked poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) containing micelles which form nanoscale pores within the PDMAEMA hydrogel. The other is nanoporous block copolymer thin films where solvent selectivity is exploited to create nanopores in PS-b-P4VP thin films. Both of these are multicomponent polymer systems which have nanoscale porous structures.

  1. Small angle neutron scattering of micellization of anionic surfactants in water, polymer solutions and hydrogels

Nanoporous materials have been broadly investigated due to the potential for a wide range of applications, including nano-reactors, low-K materials, and membranes. Among those, molecularly imprinted polymers (MIP) have attracted a large amount of interest because these materials resemble the "lock and key" paradigm of enzymes. MIPs are created by crosslinking either polymers or monomers in the presence of template molecules, usually in water. Initially, functional groups on the polymer or the monomer are bound either covalently or noncovalently to the template, and crosslinking results in a highly crosslinked hydrogel. The MIPs containing templates are immersed in a solvent (usually water), and the large difference in the osmotic pressure between the hydrogel and solvent removes the template molecules from the MIP, leaving pores in the polymer network containing functionalized groups. A broad range of different templates have been used ranging from molecules to nanoscale structures inclucing stereoisomers, virus, and micelles. When micelles are used as templates, the size and shape before and after crosslinking is an important variable as micelles are thermodynamic objects whose structure depends on the surfactant concentration of the solution, temperature, electrolyte concentration and polymer concentration. In our research, the first goal is to understand the micellization of anionic surfactants in polymer solutions and the corresponding hydrogels using small angle neutron scattering (SANS). SANS has been widely used to investigate structures ranging from sub-nanometer to sub-micrometer. Since the scattering lengths of H and D atoms are quite different, the scattering contrast can be enhanced (and varied) through isotopic labeling. It is possible to investigate the structure of micelles in polymer solutions and hydrogels using H/D contrast matching methods with SANS. For this aim, water-soluble and chemically crosslinkgable poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) was synthesized using group transfer polymerization. In order to control the size and shape of micelles, the degree of quaternization of the polymer was also controlled through the reaction of PDMAEMA with methyl iodide. The micellization of deuterated sodium dodecylsulfate (d-SDS) in (quaternized) PDMAEMA solutions and the corresponding hydrogels was then observed using SANS and the size and shape of d-SDS micelles was obtained by modeling.

  1. Nanopatterning using block copolymer/homopolymer blends

Block copolymers are well-known to self-assemble into meso- and nano-scale structures. The use of block copolymers for nanostructured patterns has attracted increasing attention due to their potential use as templates and scaffolds for the fabrication of functional nanostructures. In order to realize the potential of these materials, it is necessary to be able to control the orientation of the nanoscale pattern in a precise manner. Numerous methods such as manipulation of the interfacial surface energies, use of electric fields, and controlling the rate of solvent evaporation have developed to control orientation. In addition, it has been shown that nanopores within cylindrical domains oriented normal to the substrate can be generated by several methods. For example, one component can be degraded by UV exposure, or the homopolymer in a block copolymer/homopolymer blend can be extracted in a selective solvent. In our work, polystyrene-b-poly(4-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P4VP)/poly(4-vinylpyridine) (P4VP) films on silicon substrates were prepared using spincoating. The homopolymer was then extracted in ethanol generating pores perpendicular to the substrate. It is noted that the pore size and density were readily controlled by the amount of P4VP homopolymer in the PS-b-P4VP/P4VP solutions, giving simple control of the film structure. It was also possible to make pores more uniform and ordered by annealing in solvent vapor before extracting the homopolymer.