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Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer

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Abstract

It is well-recognized that block copolymer self-assembly in solution typically produces spheres, worms or vesicles, with the relative volume fraction of each block dictating the copolymer morphology. Stimulus-responsive diblock copolymers that can undergo either sphere/worm or vesicle/worm transitions are also well-documented. Herein we report a new amphiphilic diblock copolymer that can form spheres, worms, vesicles or lamellae in aqueous solution. Such self-assembly behavior is unprecedented for a single diblock copolymer of fixed composition yet is achieved simply by raising the solution temperature from 1 °C (spheres) to 25 °C (worms) to 50 °C (vesicles) to 70 °C (lamellae). Heating increases the degree of hydration (and hence the effective volume fraction) of the core-forming block, with this parameter being solely responsible for driving the sphere-to-worm, worm-to-vesicle and vesicle-to-lamellae transitions. The first two transitions exhibit excellent reversibility but the vesicle-to-lamellae transition exhibits hysteresis on cooling. This new thermoresponsive diblock copolymer provides a useful model for studying such morphological transitions and is likely to be of significant interest for theoretical studies.

Graphical abstract: Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Aug 2019, accepted on 11 Nov 2019 and first published on 12 Nov 2019


Article type: Edge Article
DOI: 10.1039/C9SC04197D
Chem. Sci., 2020, Advance Article
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    Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer

    S. J. Byard, C. T. O'Brien, M. J. Derry, M. Williams, O. O. Mykhaylyk, A. Blanazs and S. P. Armes, Chem. Sci., 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C9SC04197D

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