Logo JG-Universität MainzProf. Dr. Axel Müller


PhD Thesis

Functional Triblock Terpolymers for Multicompartment Micelle and Janus Particle Synthesis

Andrea Wolf (06/2013)

Support: Axel H. E. Müller


This thesis describes the synthesis of ABC triblock terpolymers with functional moieties via living anionic polymerization, followed by Janus particle (JP) and multicompartment micelle (MCM) synthesis from the as prepared triblock terpolymers. A synthesis method that can accomplish the tasks of the preparation of spherical as well as non-spherical JPs that are well-defined and in the nanometer size range is based on converting self-assembled triblock terpolymer bulk structures via selective cross-linking of the middle block. Until now such soft JPs were prepared mainly from polystyrene-block-polybutadiene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) and polystyrene-block-polybutadiene-block-poly(tert-butyl methacrylate). However, these polymers do not offer many possibilities of chemical alterations and stimuli-responsive elements. Therefore, potential new functional monomers for the use in JP synthesis from triblock terpolymer bulk structures were identified and their anionic polymerization examined, p-tert-butoxystyrene (tS) and 4-(dimethylaminomethyl)styrene (DMAMS). Polymers with low polydispersity indices could be prepared from both monomers in tetrahydrofuran (THF) with sec-butyllithium (sec-BuLi) as initiator. Poly(p-tert-butoxystyrene) (PtS) was hydrolyzed to poly(p-hydroxystyrene) (PHS) which is water-soluble at high pH values, opening the possibility to prepare water-soluble JPs. The pH-responsive behavior of poly(4-(dimethylaminomethyl)styrene) could be confirmed and for the first time an LCST behavior was documented with cloudpoints of 59.3 °C at pH 7 and 28.5 °C at pH 8. PtS was then used in the preparation of two triblock terpolymers, poly(tert-butoxystyrene)-block-polybutadiene-block-poly(tert-butyl methacrylate) (tSBT) and poly(tert-butoxystyrene)-block-polybutadiene-block-poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (tSBD). tSBT exhibited a lamella-cylinder (lc) bulk morphology with polybutadiene (PB) spheres surrounded by alternating lamellae of PtS and poly(tert-butyl methacrylate) (PtBMA). However, the bulk structure of tSBD consisted of a symmetrical lamella-lamella pattern that is not suitable for JP synthesis. From tSBT bulk material, three different types of non-spherical JPs could be obtained. Photo-cross-linking of the lamella-cylinder (lc)-morphology by co-casting a radical photo-initiator and UV exposure resulted in the expected Janus cylinders. When the bulk material was first swollen in acetonitrile and cross-linked by cold vulcanization, Janus sheets were obtained. Swelling in acetonitrile/decane emulsion lead to a new type of JPs, Janus ribbons. In both cases a phase transition had occurred; in case of the Janus sheets a thin PB layer had formed between the original PB cylinders, resulting in an undulated-lamella morphology. For the formation of Janus ribbons a connecting PB phase had formed in every second interspace along the major axis of the cylinders. Casting a tSBT film from tert-butanol, a non-solvent for PB, also enabled the synthesis of spherical JPs. This way, the importance and versatile application of swelling agents and cross-linking methods for the preparation of JPs from bulk structures was demonstrated. The obtained Janus cylinders were hydrolyzed to have one PHS and one poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) hemicylinder, resulting in water-soluble particles. Further, solution structures of tSBD and tSBT triblock terpolymers were investigated. In water, tSBD formed core-corona micelles that exhibited pH-responsive and LCST behavior due to the responsive poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) corona. Employing the novel method of directed hierarchical self-assembly, “football” MCMs were obtained from tSBD whereas tSBT formed “clover” structures. Cross-linking of the B block in such MCMs and their subsequent dissolution in a solvent for all three blocks can be used to prepare spherical JPs. However, as tSBD MCMs existed in water, no sufficient cross-linking method could be found to cross-link the organic PB phase within the aqueous solution. For tSBT MCMs in ethanol the standard approach of adding a photo-initiator to the MCM solution followed by UV exposure was successfully employed and spherical JPs were obtained. These were again hydrolyzed to acquire water-soluble JPs. Apart from some isolated single Janus spheres, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy mainly revealed the formation of “clover” and “hamburger” oligomers possibly due to the slightly better solubility of PMAA. Here, the applicability of the concept of directed hierarchical self-assembly to create MCMs was demonstrated for two different triblock terpolymers and the corresponding method of solution-based JP synthesis was successfully conducted for tSBT.

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