Self-assembly and stress relaxation in acrylic triblock copolymer gels

Michelle E. Seitz, Wesley R. Burghardt, K. T. Faber, Kenneth R. Shull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

The structure and relaxation behavior of thermoreversible gels made with poly(methyl methacrylate)-poly(n-butyl acrylate)-poly(methyl methacrylate) [PMMA-PnBA-PMMA] triblock copolymers in 2-ethylhexanol, a midblock selective solvent, were studied by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and rheology. Effects of endblock length, endblock fraction, and gel concentration on the gel properties were investigated. A dramatic decrease in SAXS intensity was observed over a 20°C interval where the gel transitions smoothly from elastic to viscous behavior. SAXS patterns were fit with a Percus-Yevick disordered hard-sphere model from which aggregation number and average domain spacing were calculated. Aggregation number increases with increasing gel concentration and endblock length. Increasing the endblock length from 9K to 25K increases the relaxation time of a gel with a polymer volume fraction of 0.15 by a factor of 106. For a given triblock endblock fraction and molecular weight, the micelle aggregation number is strongly correlated to the gel relaxation time. Arrhenius behavior with an effective activation energy of ∼550 kJ/mol was observed for all triblocks and concentrations. This very high effective energy barrier describes gels relaxation behavior over a 40°C temperature range, where the relaxation times vary by a factor of 1010.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1218-1226
Number of pages9
JournalMacromolecules
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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