Langmuir and langmuir-blodgett films of polye(thylene oxide)-b-Poly(ε- caprolactone) star-shaped block copolymers

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Self-assembly of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone) five-arm stars (PEO-b-PCL) was studied at the air/water (A/W) interface. The block copolymers consist of a hydrophilic PEO core with hydrophobic PCL chains at the star periphery. All the polymers have the same number of ethylene oxide repeat units (9 pet arm), and the number of ε-caprolactone repeat units ranges from 0 to 18 per arm. The Langmuir monolayers were analyzed by surface pressure/mean molecular area isotherms, compression-expansion hysteresis experiments, and isobaric relaxation measurements, and the Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films' morphologies were investigated by atomic force microscopy (AFM). PCL homopolymers crystallize directly at the A/W interface in a narrow surface pressure range (11-15 mN/m). In the same pressure region, the star-shaped block copolymers undergo a phase transition corresponding to the collapse and the crystallization of the PCL chains as shown by the presence of a pseudoplateau in the isotherms. The LB films were prepared by transferring the Langmuir monolayers onto mica substrates at various surface pressures. AFM imaging confirmed the formation of PCL crystals in the LB monolayers of the PCL homopolymers and of the copolymers, but also showed that the PCL segments can undergo additional crystallization after monolayer transfer during water evaporation. The PCL crystal morphologies were also strongly influenced by the surface pressure and by the PEO segments. © 2006 American Chemical Society.

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