Block Copolymer Assembly via Kinetic Control

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Science  03 Aug 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5838, pp. 647-650
DOI: 10.1126/science.1141768

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Block copolymers consist of two or more chemically different polymer segments, or blocks, connected by a covalent linkage. In solution, amphiphilic blocks can self-assemble as a result of energetic repulsion effects between blocks. The degree of repulsion, the lengths of the block segments, and the selectivity of the solvent primarily control the resultant assembled morphology. In an ideal situation, one would like to be able to alter the morphology that forms without having to change the chemistry of the block copolymer. Through the kinetic manipulation of charged, amphiphilic block copolymers in solution, we are able to generate different nanoscale structures with simple block copolymer chemistry. The technique relies on divalent organic counter ions and solvent mixtures to drive the organization of the block copolymers down specific pathways into complex one-dimensional structures. Block copolymers are increasingly used as templating materials; thus, the ability to control the formation of specific patterns and structures is of growing interest and applicability.

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