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Tuning microdomain spacing with light using ortho‐nitrobenzyl‐linked triblock copolymers


Using sequential RAFT polymerization, single monomer insertion, and “click” chemistry, a series of triblock copolymers, poly(ethylene oxide)‐b‐polystyrene‐b‐poly(ethylene oxide), PEO‐b‐PS‐b‐PEO, were synthesized, where one of the two junction points is a UV cleavable ortho‐nitrobenzyl (ONB). Ordered patterns of PEO‐b‐PS‐b‐PEO were produced by solvent vapor annealing. Upon exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, the PEO‐b‐PS‐b‐PEO was converted into a mixture of a PEO homopolymer and a PS‐b‐PEO diblock copolymer. It was found that the microdomain spacing could be tuned by adjusting the UV exposure time, due to the change in the copolymer architecture and the swelling of the PEO microdomain by the PEO homopolymer produced. By selective area exposure of the PEO‐b‐PS‐b‐PEO thin films, the domain spacing was changed over selected locations across the film, generating patterns of different microdomain sizes. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2017.

Ortho‐nitrobenzyl is a photoresponsive functional group which will be scissored upon exposure of UV light. In this article, ortho‐nitrobenzyl group is incorporated a triblock copolymer, PEO‐b‐PS‐b‐PEO, at the junction of two block. The chain architecture of the ortho‐nitrobenzyl containing triblock copolymer changes upon UV exposure, resulting in a change of nanostructure of the block copolymer in thin film.

Authors:   Wenxu Zhang, Zhiwei Sun, Yishu Jiang, Xiaohui Liu, Rohit Gupta, Thomas P. Russell, E. Bryan Coughlin
Journal:   Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics
Year:   2017
Pages:   n/a
DOI:   10.1002/polb.24565
Publication date:   22-Dec-2017
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  • light
  • Wiley
  • ultraviolet light
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