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Ring-opening polymerization-induced crystallization-driven self-assembly of poly-L-lactide-block-polyethylene glycol block copolymers (ROPI-CDSA).

  • Author(s): Hurst, Paul J;
  • Rakowski, Alexander M;
  • Patterson, Joseph P
  • et al.
Abstract

The self-assembly of block copolymers into 1D, 2D and 3D nano- and microstructures is of great interest for a wide range of applications. A key challenge in this field is obtaining independent control over molecular structure and hierarchical structure in all dimensions using scalable one-pot chemistry. Here we report on the ring opening polymerization-induced crystallization-driven self-assembly (ROPI-CDSA) of poly-L-lactide-block-polyethylene glycol block copolymers into 1D, 2D and 3D nanostructures. A key feature of ROPI-CDSA is that the polymerization time is much shorter than the self-assembly relaxation time, resulting in a non-equilibrium self-assembly process. The self-assembly mechanism is analyzed by cryo-transmission electron microscopy, wide-angle x-ray scattering, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and turbidity studies. The analysis revealed that the self-assembly mechanism is dependent on both the polymer molecular structure and concentration. Knowledge of the self-assembly mechanism enabled the kinetic trapping of multiple hierarchical structures from a single block copolymer.

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