Temperature-controlled formation of inverse mesophases assembled from a rod–coil block copolymer†
Inverse mesophases with ordered structures self-assembled by block copolymers (BCPs) are of great use in nanomaterials. However, it was still not easy to fabricate these ordered inverse nanostructures until recently. Herein, the self-assembling temperature is controlled to regulate the formation of inverse nanostructures, including spongy structures, Pnm polymer cubosomes, and p6mm polymer hexasomes, from a rod–coil BCP for the first time. By changing the self-assembling temperature, these inverse nanostructures can be obtained controllably in a small volume fraction window. Then, a porous silica cubosome was also prepared using the polymer cubosome as a hard template. Small-angle X-ray scattering and scanning electron microscopy results confirmed that the ordered bicontinuous structure with Pnm symmetry was perfectly transferred to the inorganic silica cubosome. These results not only provide more details about the reason for the formation of inverse nanostructures, but also provide a facile route to prepare network-like nanomaterials.