Dielectric discontinuity in equilibrium block copolymer micelles
The surface tension between the hydrophobic core and the solvent is known to play a major role in the self-assembly of diblock copolymer micelles in solution. Coulombic forces are also very important in the case of aggregates with weakly charged coronas. The aggregation number and morphology are often tuned by the addition of electrolytes to the solution via electrostatic screening and an eventual change in solvent quality. However, when the surface tension is low enough, dielectric discontinuity between the core and the solvent becomes important enough in comparison to other mechanisms, driving the surface tension at the same time it screens electrostatic interactions in the corona. Below, we demonstrate the importance of this effect for micelles with neutral and weakly charged coronas.