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Keywords:

  • amphiphiles;
  • controlled free radical polymerization;
  • reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT);
  • self-organization;
  • triblock copolymers

Abstract

Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Six new bifunctional bis(trithiocarbonate)s were explored as RAFT agents for synthesizing amphiphilic triblock copolymers ABA and BAB, with hydrophilic “A” blocks made from N-isopropylacrylamide and hydrophobic “B” blocks made from styrene. Whereas the extension of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) by styrene was not effective, polystyrene macroRAFT agents provided the block copolymers efficiently. End group analysis by 1H NMR spectroscopy supported molar mass analysis and revealed an unexpected side reaction for certain bis(trithiocarbonate)s, namely a fragmentation to simple trithiocarbonates while extruding ethylenetrithiocarbonate. The amphiphilic block copolymers with short polystyrene blocks are directly soluble in water and self-organize into thermoresponsive micellar aggregates.