Amphiphilic comb-like pentablock copolymers of Pluronic L64 and poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate: synthesis by ATRP, self-assembly, and clouding behavior
Well-defined amphiphilic comb-like pentablock copolymers based on Pluronic L64 (PEO13-b-PPO30-b-PEO13) and poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMA) have been successfully synthesized via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). The L64 is transformed into ATRP macroinitiator and chain extended with PEGMA under typical ATRP conditions to achieve comb-like pentablock copolymers of various compositions. Due to their amphiphilic nature, the block copolymers could form self-assembled structures in aqueous solutions as confirmed by dynamic light scattering. At higher PEGMA content in the synthesized copolymer, however, the critical aggregation concentration (CAC) is less pronounced that could be attributed to the increased hydrophilicity and steric hindrance of PEG side chains of the PEGMA, thus preventing the formation of well-defined micellar aggregates, and probably leads to open-shell aggregation mechanism. The lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of the synthesized block copolymers is found higher than the neat L64 and increased with increasing the PEGMA content. Further, tuning the clouding behavior could be achieved with inorganic additives (KBr and K2SO4). The influence of SO42− and Br1− on LCST is according to their position in Hofmeister series. Interestingly, the effect of additives is more pronounced above the CAC of the copolymer, suggesting that the nanoaggregates in solution induce the macrophase separation.
KeywordsATRP Self-association Cloud point Amphiphilic block copolymers Comb-like
Hazrat Hussain gratefully acknowledges the financial support from QAU under URF scheme.
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