Molecular Weight Dependence of Block Copolymer Micelle Fragmentation Kinetics


Early, J.T.; Block, A.; Yager, K.G.; Lodge, T.P. "Molecular Weight Dependence of Block Copolymer Micelle Fragmentation Kinetics" Journal of the American Chemical Society 2021, 143 7748–7758.
doi: 10.1021/jacs.1c02147


We investigate the fragmentation kinetics of block copolymer micelles.


The effect of molecular weight (M) on the fragmentation kinetics of micelles formed by 1,2-polybutadiene-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PB-PEO) copolymers was studied in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide. A series of six samples, with total M ranging from 104 to 105 g mol-1 and nearly constant composition (fPEO ~ 0.4), were examined; all six formed spherical micelles with PEO coronas. Nonequilibrium PB-PEO micelles were prepared by direct dissolution, a process that systematically produces nanoparticles with mean aggregation numbers more than twice the equilibrium values. When subjected to high temperature annealing (170 °C), the average micelle radius was found to decrease substantially, as determined by temperature-jump dynamic light scattering (T-jump DLS) and time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering (TR-SAXS). The characteristic fragmentation times (tau) were found to increase strongly with increasing degree of polymerization N, as tau ~ N1.8. This result compares favorably with the prediction of a previously untested model.