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Nanostructured polymers constitute an increasingly important class of materials. Investigations into the formation of nanostructural elements in microphase-ordered block copolymers have elucidated universal mechanisms of self-organization in soft-condensed matter, since topologically comparable nanostructures develop in biological and surfactant systems. Emerging applications of such polymers include nanotemplates for inorganic materials, optical switches and nanoreactors. Despite all the efforts that have focused on these materials in previous years, basic questions regarding the characteristics of these nanostructures, especially those exhibiting bicontinuity, persist. While most attempts to address these questions have relied on small-angle scattering, a real-space approach to this problem compares slices of simulated nanostructures to 2-D transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. An alternate strategy is transmission electron microtomography (TEMT), which utilizes 3-D images (reconstructed from a series of 2-D images collected at sequential tilt angles) for detailed structural analysis. Using this method, we have, for instance, recently confirmed that packing frustration,
Thin films (<100nm) of diblock copolymers are being investigated for various applications including templates for nanopatterning , electronic packaging materials, and biomedical applications. In such applications it is essential that stable defect free films be produced repeatedly. Because long and short range forces (like van der Waals) dominate thin polymer films, instabilities are introduced in the films when they are spin-coated onto hydrophobic substrates resulting in dewetting of the film from the substrate. Dewetting is initiated at a nucleation site in a metastable film leading to the formation of a dry patch and proceeds to grow by transport of material away from the nucleation site, forming a lip that surrounds the hole. Highly symmetrical structures form during progression of the dewetting process and completion of the process can be identified when all holes coalesce forming polygons outlined by droplets of the polymer film .
Addition of an ABA triblock copolymer to a midblock-selective solvent can, depending on copolymer/blend composition and the magnitude of block-block and block-solvent interactions, result in the formation of a physical network that is stabilized by aggregates of the incompatible A-block. In this work, an ABA copolymer with a nematic side-chain liquid crystal midblock is added to a low-molar-mass nematic liquid crystal (LC) in an effort to produce a comparable copolymer network and bind the LC matrix. This nanostructured system, designated a physically crosslinked liquid crystal (PCLC), may not suffer as much from the constraint-induced LC anchoring problems associated with conventional polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs). Results presented here demonstrate that hierarchical phase behavior must be carefully considered in the design of PCLCs.
Mechanical alloying represents a potential method for producing finely dispersed alloys of normally incompatible polymers. In this paper, PET and blends of PET with a Vectra thermotropic copolyester have been processed via high energy ball milling at room temperature (ambimilled) and at liquid nitrogen temperatures (cryomilled). Milled powders and compacted disks have been characterized using molecular weight, density and hardness measurements, aswell as DSC, WAXS, TEM and FTIR.
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