Thermoresponsive Triblock‐Copolymers of Polyethylene Oxide and Polymethacrylates: Linking Chemistry, Nanoscale Morphology, and Rheological Properties

Marcelo Alves da Silva, Peter Haddow, Stewart B. Kirton, William J. McAuley, Lionel Porcar, Cécile A. Dreiss, Michael T. Cook

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Abstract

Abstract: Thermoreversible gels switch from a free‐flowing liquid state to an elastic gel mesophase upon warming, displaying the reverse transition upon cooling. While this phenomenon makes these advanced materials highly attractive in numerous fields, the generation of optimal materials of tailored rheology and transition temperatures is stifled by the lack of design principles. To address this need, a library of ABA copolymers has been prepared with “A” blocks exhibiting thermoresponsive behavior and “B” blocks of poly(ethylene glycol). This library evaluates the effect of “A” chemistry, probing three polymer classes, and A/B block molecular weight on thermally‐induced phase changes in solutions of the polymers. An exploration by rheometry coupled to Small‐Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) elucidates temperature‐dependent hierarchical self‐assembly processes occurring on the nanoscale as well as bulk rheology. This process deciphered links between rheology and supracolloidal assemblies (sphere, ellipses, and cylinders) within the gel state with interactions probed further via structure factors. Several design principles are identified to inform the genesis of next‐generation thermoreversible gels, alongside novel materials exhibited thermoresponsive behavior in the solution state for use in applied healthcare technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2109010
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Early online date23 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Research Article
  • Research Articles
  • in situ gels
  • lower critical solution temperatures
  • temperature‐responsive polymers
  • thermoreversible gels

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