In this paper, we report the synthesis and self-assembly of a novel thermoresponsive PNIPAM60–b-PDMS70–b-PNIPAM60 triblock copolymer in aqueous solution. The copolymer used a commercially available precursor modified with an atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) initiator to produce an ABA triblock copolymer via ATRP. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) was used to shed light on the structures of nanoparticles formed in aqueous solutions of this copolymer at two temperatures, 25 and 40 °C. The poly(dimethylsiloxane) block is very hydrophobic and poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) is thermoresponsive. SANS data at 25 °C indicates that the solutions of PNIPAM–b-PDMS–b-PNIPAM copolymers form well-defined aggregates with presumably core–shell structures below cloud point temperature. The scattering curves originating from nanoparticles formed at 40 °C in 100% D2O or 100% H2O were successfully fitted with the Beaucage model describing aggregates with hierarchical structure.
- Atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP)