Neutron reflectivity measurements at the oil/water interface for the study of stimuli-responsive emulsions⋆
Stable stimuli-responsive emulsions between oil and water are formed with an amphiphilic block copolymer bearing polystyrene (PS) and poly(dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) moieties. Different kinds of emulsions like direct, multiple or inverse ones are reproducibly formed as a function of chemical parameters such as p H and salt concentration. To test the correlation between the different nature of the emulsion and the conformation of the polymer chain at the interface, neutron reflectometry at the oil/water interface was carried out. An original sample cell was built and the procedure to get reliable results with it on the FIGARO reflectometer at the Institut Laue-Langevin is described. Results show that for direct emulsions, the copolymer is much more extended on the water side than on the oil side. In the case where multiple emulsions are stabilized, the conformation is strongly modified and is compatible with a more equilibrated extension of the chain on both sides. The inverse case shows that the extension in oil is stronger than in water. These results are discussed in term of polymer brushes (charged or neutral) extension with respect to salt addition and hydrophobic interactions.