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Rapid Generation and Screening of Complex Polymer Morphologies

Block copolymers, with their complex morphologies, are widely used in many applications. A grand challenge associated with these materials is accelerating their design and discovery.

UC Santa Barbara MRSEC researchers have developed a versatile and efficient strategy by rapidly building expansive, high-quality, and detailed block copolymer libraries through a combination of controlled polymerization and chromatographic separation. X-ray scattering studies aid in screening block copolymer morphology.

A family of 16 parent diblock copolymers was synthesized and separated, leading to over 300 distinct and well-defined samples at the multigram scale, and spanning a wide range of compositions with exceptional resolution in volume fraction and domain spacing.

The precise location of order-order boundaries and the identification of morphologies with extremely narrow windows of stability are possible with these methods.

Scheme of the synthesis and separation of block copolymers and a typical morphology analysis as a function of molecular weight and phase fraction.