Kinetics of Water Transfer Between the LCST and UCST Thermoresponsive Blocks in Diblock Copolymer Thin Films Monitored by In Situ Neutron Reflectivity

Neng Hu, Li Lin, Ezzeldin Metwalli, Lorenz Bießmann, Martine Philipp, Viet Hildebrand, Andre Laschewsky, Christine M. Papadakis, Robert Cubitt, Qi Zhong, Peter Müller-Buschbaum

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3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The kinetics of water transfer between the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) and upper critical solution temperature (UCST) thermoresponsive blocks in about 10 nm thin films of a diblock copolymer is monitored by in situ neutron reflectivity. The UCST-exhibiting block in the copolymer consists of the zwitterionic poly(4-((3-methacrylamidopropyl)dimethylammonio)butane-1-sulfonate), abbreviated as PSBP. The LCST-exhibiting block consists of the nonionic poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), abbreviated as PNIPAM. The as-prepared PSBP80-b-PNIPAM400 films feature a three-layer structure, i.e., PNIPAM, mixed PNIPAM and PSBP, and PSBP. Both blocks have similar transition temperatures (TTs), namely around 32 °C for PNIPAM, and around 35 °C for PSBP, and with a two-step heating protocol (20 °C to 40 °C and 40 °C to 80 °C), both TTs are passed. The response to such a thermal stimulus turns out to be complex. Besides a three-step process (shrinkage, rearrangement, and reswelling), a continuous transfer of D2O from the PNIPAM to the PSBP block is observed. Due to the existence of both, LCST and UCST blocks in the PSBP80-b-PNIPAM400 film, the water transfer from the contracting PNIPAM, and mixed layers to the expanding PSBP layer occurs. Thus, the hydration kinetics and thermal response differ markedly from a thermoresponsive polymer film with a single LCST transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2201913
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • block copolymer
  • dual thermoresponsive
  • kinetic water transfer
  • neutron reflectivity
  • thin film

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