We investigated the influence of tetrahydrofuran (THF) addition on the structure of poly(1,2-butadiene-b-ethylene oxide) [PB-PEO] micelles in aqueous solution. Our studies showed that while the micelles remained starlike, the micelle core-corona interfacial tension and micelle size decreased upon THF addition. The detailed effects of the reduction in interfacial tension were probed using contrast variations in small angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments. At low THF contents (high interfacial tensions), the SANS data were fit to a micelle form factor that incorporated a radial density distribution of corona chains to account for the starlike micelle profile. However, at higher THF contents (low interfacial tensions), the presence of free chains in solution affected the scattering at high q and required the implementation of a linear combination of micelle and Gaussian coil form factors. These SANS data fits indicated that the reduction in interfacial tension led to broadening of the core-corona interface, which increased the PB chain solvent accessibility at intermediate THFsolvent fractions. We also noted that the micelle cores swelled with increasing THF addition, suggesting that previous assumptions of the micelle core solvent content in cosolvent mixtures may not be accurate. Control over the size, corona thickness, and extent of solvent accessible PB in these micelles can be a powerful tool in the development of targeting delivery vehicles.
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