A series of ABA triblock copolymers of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and dodecyl methacrylate (DMA) [poly(MMA-b-DMA-b-MMA)] (PMDM) were synthesized by Ru-based sequential living radical polymerization. For this, DMA was first polymerized from a difunctional initiator, ethane-1,2-diyl bis(2-chloro-2-phenylacetate) with combination of RuCl2(PPh3)3 catalyst and nBu3N additive in toluene at 80 °C. As the conversion of DMA reached over about 90%, MMA was directly added into the reaction solution to give PMDM with controlled molecular weight (Mw/Mn ≤ 1.2). These triblock copolymers showed well-organized morphologies such as body centered cubic, hexagonal cylinder, and lamella structures both in bulk and in thin film by self-assembly phenomenon with different poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) weight fractions. Obtained PMDMs with 20–40 wt % of the PMMA segments showed excellent electroactive actuation behaviors at relatively low voltages, which was much superior compared to conventional styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene triblock copolymer systems due to its higher polarity derived from the methacrylate backbone and lower modulus. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013
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