Controlling the shape of Janus nanostructures through supramolecular modification of ABC terpolymer bulk morphologies
AbstractBlock copolymers microphase separate into a variety of bulk morphologies that serve as scaffolds, templates, masks and source for polymeric nano-particles. While supramolecular additives are common to complex within diblock copolymers to modify the morphology, the subtle effects of complexation on ABC triblock terpolymer morphologies are less explored. Here, we describe the manipulation of polystyrene-block-poly(4-vinylpyridine)-block-poly(tert-butyl methacrylate) (PS-b-P4VP-b-PT or S4VT) triblock terpolymer bulk morphologies through supramolecular complexation with rod-like 4-(4-pentylphenylazo)phenol (5PAP). The 5PAP molecule hydrogen bonds by phenolic groups to the 4VP repeating units and with increasing molar fraction of 5PAP, initially observed P4VP cylinders flatten into elliptic cylinders until a morphological transition occurs into a third (P4VP/5PAP) lamella. At sufficient 5PAP loadings, the cylinders can even merge into a perforated P4VP lamella located at the PS/PT interface. Quaternization of the P4VP phase and re-dispersion in organic solvent allows liberating S4VT Janus nanostructures from the bulk, including Janus cylinders, nanoporous Janus membranes and Janus sheets. The manipulation of “sandwiched” microphases through supramolecular binding motifs could allow the preparation of previously inaccessible terpolymer bulk morphologies and, in case of cross-linkable phases, lead to a larger library of Janus nano-objects.