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Structural control in micelles of alkyl acrylate-acrylate copolymers via alkyl chain length and block length

Azeri, Özge; Schönfeld, Dennis; Noirez, Laurence; Gradzielski, Michael

FG Physikalische Chemie / Molekulare Materialwissenschaften

Amphiphilic copolymers with poly (alkyl acrylate) as hydrophobic and poly (acrylic acid) (AA) as hydrophilic block have been synthesised. The alkyl chain was varied from butyl to dodecyl, thereby varying systematically the polarity of the hydrophobic block whose length was between 35 and 70, while the PAA block had ~ 100 units. Such relatively short amphiphiles should equilibrate quickly in aqueous solution, and their corresponding self-assembly properties were characterised by means of critical micelle concentration (cmc) determination. Detailed information regarding the aggregate structures was obtained by static light scattering (SLS) and small angle neutron scattering (SANS). This could be correlated with the molecular architecture of the copolymers and the degree of ionisation of the PAA block. Generally, it is found that the aggregation numbers become smaller upon fully charging the PAA head group and only for dodecyl acrylate really well-defined micellar aggregates are formed. This means that the extent of hydrophobicity of the alkyl acrylate block and its length determine in a clear fashion the propensity for micelle formation and the mass and aggregation number of the formed micelles.