Logo JG-Universität MainzProf. Dr. Axel Müller


PhD Thesis

Synthesis and Self-Assembly of Novel ABC Miktoarm Star Terpolymers

Andreas Hanisch (01/2013-04/2013)

Support: Axel H. E. Müller


A novel synthesis for ABC miktoarm star terpolymers and their self-assembly into complex superstructures in aqueous solution are described within this thesis. To this aim a modular route for such materials was developed, combining anionic polymerization and copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. At the example of ABC miktoarm star terpolymers and an ABA’ miktoarm star copolymer containing a poly(N-methyl-2-vinypyridinium iodide) (P2VPq) segment, the counterion-mediated superstructure-formation of complex shaped aggregates was thoroughly investigated. The key compound of the combinatorial synthesis is the newly synthesized 4-alkyne-substitued diphenylethylene derivative 1-[(4-(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)ethynyl)phenyl]-1-phenylethylene (“click-DPE”). This was applied in sequential anionic polymerization to prepare well-defined alkyne mid-functional diblock copolymers composed of polybutadiene (PB) as first and poly(tert-butyl methacrylate) (PtBMA), poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP), or poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) as second block. The alkyne-midfunctional diblock copolymers were afterwards conjugated with azido-functional polystyrenes (PS), poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), PtBMA and PDMAEMA to successfully obtain different novel ABC miktoarm star terpolymers with narrow molecular weight distributions. For an ABC miktoarm star terpolymer consisting of arms of PB, PtBMA and P2VP it was demonstrated that after quaternization with methyl iodide (yielding BVqT) and dialysis to water the nature of the counterion allows for manipulation of the obtained structures. The miktoarm star architecture together with iodide as counterion is essential for this directed self-assembly. Transformation of iodide to triiodide, via the addition of iodine before dialysis to water, decreases the hydrophilicity of the P2VPq corona and therefore induces the directed self-assembly of spherical micelles with a PB/PtBMA core, into cylinders, superstructures thereof and finally barrel-shaped aggregates of up to 1 µm with an internal lamellar fine structure. Based on their appearance in transmission electron micrographs these were termed “woodlouse” aggregates. The compact particles consist of alternating lamellae of a partially demixed PB/PtBMA phase and a swollen P2VPq phase. The general applicability of this counterion-mediated hierarchical self-assembly was furthermore demonstrated by using two other miktoarm star systems. For three ABC miktoarm star terpolymers of different composition, consisting of PB, PS and P2VPq segments (BVqS), a dependence of the morphology on the fraction of the hydrophilic block was determined, in analogy to diblock copolymers. For long P2VPq blocks stacked lamellar/disk-like structures evolve from micellar building units. In contrast, a short P2VPq segment yields multilamellar vesicles via fusion of vesicular primary building blocks. The vesicle walls are supposed to consist of a lamellar structure with the PB phase in the centre, shielded from the P2VPq corona by thin PS layers. At the example of one BVqS miktoarm star terpolymer the successful formation of nanohybrids containing gold nanoparticles within the P2VPq phase is demonstrated. In the second system the low-Tg PB segment was replaced by a second PS block of different length (SVqS’). Even though vesicles serve as initial building units, the triiodide-induced superstructure formation leads to anisotropic aggregation of deformed vesicles, rather than to the fusion into multilamellar vesicles. This is attributed to the two glassy PS core blocks which minimize the dynamics during self-assembly and allow only minor rearrangement of the aggregated structures. Similar to the “woodlouse” aggregates from BVqT, lamellar structured particles of elongated shape were obtained from SVqS’, despite vesicles serving as primary building units. Consequently, the presented triiodide-directed self-assembly into complex superstructures is not restricted to miktoarm star polymers containing a low-Tg segment, as the rearrangement processes take place during the dialysis process, where the organic co-solvent enables sufficient mobility of the core-forming blocks. Besides the introduction of a novel synthetic approach for the construction of miktoarm star terpolymers and the synthetic advance of the alkyne-functionalized DPE, the presented triiodide-mediated superstructure formation represents an interesting concept for directed self-assembly processes.

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