Surface properties and aggregation behaviors of amphiphilic highly-branched block polyethers in aqueous solution


A series of new highly-branched block polyethers, PA-PO-EO, were synthesized via anion ring-opening polymerization of propylene oxide (PO) and ethylene oxide (EO), using phenol-amine resin (PA) as the initiator. The molecular structures were confirmed by end group analysis, FT-IR and 1H NMR. The surface properties and self-assembly behaviors in aqueous solution were investigated by surface tension, fluorescence spectroscopy, UV–vis spectra and TEM. The results indicated that the CMC of polyethers aqueous solution presented a wide range, and the scope of CMC corresponded to the content of EO. Moreover, the proportion of PA had a great effect on the properties of the whole polymer molecules, and the number of blocks was a critical factor to the process of self-assembly. A corresponding critical size of the spherical micelles formed by different samples was presented from TEM photographs. Accordingly, the possible self-assembly mechanisms were put forward to explain the formation of all kinds of aggregates. In a word, the PA and PPO blocks aggregated to form a relatively hydrophobic core, which was stabilized by a hydrophilic PEO corona.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, No. 51103179) and the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (Grant No. ZR2011BL017) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (09CX02008A, 12CX02015A, 14CX02007A) and the scholarship of China Scholarship Council (CSC 201206455009).

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Correspondence to Zhiqing Zhang.

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Yang, S., Zhang, Z., Wang, F. et al. Surface properties and aggregation behaviors of amphiphilic highly-branched block polyethers in aqueous solution. J Polym Res 20, 205 (2013).

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  • Amphiphilic
  • Highly-branched polyether
  • Block copolymer
  • Self-assembly
  • Micelle