Mesoscale simulation of the formation and dynamics of lipid-structured poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) diblock copolymers
Twelve poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PEO-b-PMMA) copolymers with lipid-like structures were designed and investigated by MesoDyn simulation. Spherical and worm-like micelles as well as bicontinuous, lamellar and defected lamellar phases were obtained. A special structure, designated B2412, with two lipid structures connected by their heads, was found to undergo four stages prior to forming a spherical micelle phase. Two possible assembly mechanisms were found via thermodynamic and dynamic process analyses; namely, the fusion and fission of micelles in dynamic equilibrium during the adjustment stage. Water can be encapsulated into these micelles, which can affect their size, particularly in low concentration aqueous solutions. The assignment of weak negative charges to the hydrophilic EO blocks resulted in a clear effect on micelle size. Surprisingly, the largest effect was observed with EO blocks with −0.5 e, wherein an ordered perfect hexagonal phase was formed. The obtained results can be applied in numerous fields of study, including adsorption, catalysis, controlled release and drug delivery.