Role of Monomer Sequence in Polymer Coatings and Self-Assembly
Polymeric materials that incorporate multiple functionalities are crucial in a variety of applications, from adhesives and membranes to thermoplastic elastomers and electrolytes. Control over the length scale of each component is key to designing the structure and resulting properties, driving efforts for greater control in copolymer systems. Controlling comonomer sequence is an attractive tool to reach this goal, as the length scales of assembly can be set by tuning the size and connectivity of different chemistries. However, materials systems that bridge the sequence-specificity of biopolymers and robustness of synthetic polymers are needed to experimentally understand the role of comonomer sequence in multicomponent polymer materials. This work utilizes versatile and scalable polypeptoid chemistry to install sequence-defined chains into traditional polymer systems, focusing on two potential applications. First, the roles of polymer sequence and functionality are investigated in a modular surface-active coating, achieving optimal marine antifouling and fouling release properties with finer length scales of amphiphilicity. Second, the role of comonomer sequence is investigated in self-assembling diblock copolymers, forming lamellae with tunable thermal and morphological properties based on sequence. The findings in this work emphasize the utility of comonomer sequence as a design tool to target both surface and bulk properties of multicomponent polymer materials.