Chemical Imaging of Phase-Separated Polymer Blends by Fluorescence Microscopy
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- Serrano, B., Baselga, J., Bravo, J. et al. Journal of Fluorescence (2000) 10: 135. doi:10.1023/A:1009439024969
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Blends of poly(vinylacetate) (PVAc) and poly(cyclohexylmethacrylate) (PCHMA) labeled by copolymerization with 4-methacryloylamine-4′-nitrostilbene (Sb), with (1-pyrenylmethyl)methacrylate (Py), or with 3-(methacryloylamine)propyl-N-carbazole (Cbz) were prepared by casting dilute solutions in tetrahydrofurane (THF) or chloroform. Films about 10 μm thick were formed. Phase separation in two types of domains is observed by transmission optical microscopy (TOM) and epifluorescence microscopy (EFM): small craters of 1 to 10 μm placed at the polymer-air interface and larger domains, on the scale of 100 μm. The morphology of samples depends on the composition of the polymer blend and on solvent. The green fluorescence of Sb, the violet of Py, or the blue of Cbz provides imaging of the distribution of PCHMA in the different domains and in the matrix. It is thus observed that (i) superficial craters and large domains are formed mainly by PCHMA and (ii) the matrix is composed of PVAc in films cast from THF and it is a blend of the two polymers, homogeneous at the submicrometric scale, for chloroform. The emission intensity of Py, recorded by microfluorescence spectroscopy (MFS), yields a mapping similar to imaging detection. It is remarkable that in films cast from chloroform, the smaller domains are distributed with a 2D hexatic order disrupted by dislocations and disclinations, whereas in films cast from THF, a larger heterogeneity is found, denoting different mechanisms of solvent evaporation.