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Issue 1, 2019
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Self-assembly of a silicon-containing side-chain liquid crystalline block copolymer in bulk and in thin films: kinetic pathway of a cylinder to sphere transition

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Abstract

The self-assembly of a high-χ silicon-containing side-chain liquid crystalline block copolymer (LC BCP) in bulk and in thin films is reported, and the structural transition process from the hexagonally packed cylinder (HEX) to the body-centered cubic structure (BCC) in thin films was examined by both reciprocal and real space experimental methods. The block copolymer, poly(dimethylsiloxane-b-11-(4′-cyanobiphenyl-4-yloxy)undecylmethacrylate) (PDMS-b-P(4CNB11C)MA) with a molecular weight of 19.5 kg mol−1 and a volume fraction of PDMS 27% self-assembled in bulk into a hierarchical nanostructure of sub-20 nm HEX cylinders of PDMS with the P(4CNB11C)MA block exhibiting a smectic LC phase with a 1.61 nm period. The structure remained HEX as the P(4CNB11C)MA block transformed to an isotropic phase at ∼120 °C. In the thin films, the PDMS cylindrical microdomains were oriented in layers parallel to the substrate surface. The LC block formed a smectic LC phase which transformed to an isotropic phase at ∼120 °C, and the microphase-separated nanostructure transformed from HEX to BCC spheres at ∼160 °C. The hierarchical structure as well as the dynamic structural transition of the thin films were characterized using in situ grazing-incidence small-angle X-ray scattering and grazing-incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering. The transient morphologies from the HEX to BCC structure in thin films were captured by scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy, and the transition pathway was described.

Graphical abstract: Self-assembly of a silicon-containing side-chain liquid crystalline block copolymer in bulk and in thin films: kinetic pathway of a cylinder to sphere transition

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Publication details

The article was received on 25 Sep 2018, accepted on 17 Nov 2018 and first published on 19 Nov 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8NR07685E
Nanoscale, 2019,11, 285-293
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Self-assembly of a silicon-containing side-chain liquid crystalline block copolymer in bulk and in thin films: kinetic pathway of a cylinder to sphere transition

    F. Liao, L. Shi, L. Cheng, S. Lee, R. Ran, K. G. Yager and C. A. Ross, Nanoscale, 2019, 11, 285
    DOI: 10.1039/C8NR07685E

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