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Self-Seeding Procedure for Obtaining Stacked Block Copolymer Lamellar Crystals in Solution

Brahim Bessif, Thomas Pfohl and Günter Reiter. Polymers 13 (2021) 1676

We examined the formation of self-seeded platelet-like crystals from polystyrene-block-polyethylene oxide (PS-b-PEO) diblock copolymers in toluene as a function of polymer concentration (c), crystallization temperature (TC), and self-seeding temperature (TSS). We showed that the number (N) of platelet-like crystals and their mean lateral size (L) can be controlled through a self-seeding procedure. As (homogeneous) nucleation was circumvented by the self-seeding procedure, N did not depend on TC. N increased linearly with c and decayed exponentially with TSS but was not affected significantly by the time the sample was kept at TSS. The solubility limit of PS-b-PEO in toluene (c*), which was derived from the linear extrapolation of N(c)→ 0 and from the total deposited mass of the platelets per area (MC(c)→0), depended on TC. We have also demonstrated that at low N, stacks consisting of a (large) number (η) of uniquely oriented lamellae can be achieved. At a given TC, L was controlled by N and η as well as by Δc=c−c∗. Thus, besides being able to predict size and number of platelet-like crystals, the self-seeding procedure also allowed control of the number of stacked lamellae in these crystals.

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