Morphological investigation of polydisperse asymmetric block copolymer systems of poly(styrene) and poly(methacrylic acid) in the strong segregation regime



Samples of compositionally (highly) asymmetric diblock copolymers and, also, mixtures of diblock and triblock copolymers (the latter obtained as end-coupling products of two diblock molecules of the mixture), composed of (a) monodisperse majority block(s) of poly(styrene) (PS) and a polydisperse minority block of poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA), microphase separate into spherical PMAA microdomains, either in disordered liquid-like state or body-centered-cubic (BCC) arrangement, at various annealing temperatures T, in the strong segregation regime SSR. We found that (i) the microphase separated state is favored over an anticipated molecularly homogenous state, (ii) the spherical microdomain morphology (with BCC symmetry) is favored over an anticipated hexagonally packed cylindrical morphology, (iii) the extent of the dissolution of short PMAA blocks in the PS material can be quantified, (iv) the spherical microdomains are dilated, and (v) despite molecular-weight (and architectural) polydispersity, well-ordered BCC structures can be obtained. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci. Part B: Polym. Phys. 2013, 51, 1657–1671