Evaluation of Isoprene Chain Extension from PEO Macromolecular Chain Transfer Agents for the Preparation of Dual, Invertible Block Copolymer Nanoassemblies.
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Two RAFT-capable PEO macro-CTAs, 2 and 5 kDa, were prepared and used for the polymerization of isoprene which yielded well-defined block copolymers of varied lengths and compositions. GPC analysis of the PEO macro-CTAs and block copolymers showed remaining unreacted PEO macro-CTA. Mathematical deconvolution of the GPC chromatograms allowed for the estimation of the blocking efficiency, about 50% for the 5 kDa PEO macro-CTA and 64% for the 2 kDa CTA. Self assembly of the block copolymers in both water and decane was investigated and the resulting regular and inverse assemblies, respectively, were analyzed with DLS, AFM, and TEM to ascertain their dimensions and properties. Assembly of PEO-b-PIp block copolymers in aqueous solution resulted in well-defined micelles of varying sizes while the assembly in hydrophobic, organic solvent resulted in the formation of different morphologies including large aggregates and well-defined cylindrical and spherical structures.