Effects of crystallinity and dispersity on the self-assembly behavior of block co-oligomers in water

Marle E.J. Vleugels, Marnie E. De Zwart, Jose Rodrigo Magana, Brigitte A.G. Lamers, Ilja K. Voets, E. W. Meijer, Katja Petkau-Milroy (Corresponding author), Anja R.A. Palmans (Corresponding author)

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Self-assembly of block copolymers in solution is a topic of great interest in polymer science due to the potential for applications as a drug carrier system. In bulk, fully discrete polymers have been shown to self-assemble in extremely well-defined structures, but the effect of full discreteness on self-assembly in solution is less known. Furthermore, little is known about the effect of molar mass dispersity on crystallization driven self-assembly. Here, we investigate both the effects of dispersity and crystallinity on the self-assembly behavior of low molecular weight poly(lactic acid)-poly(ethylene glycol) block co-oligomers (BCOs) in solution. The results show that the introduction of dispersity and/or crystallinity does not significantly affect spherical and cylindrical morphologies, but vesicular structures are affected. The introduction of dispersity in amorphous vesicle forming BCOs lowers the reproducibility of preparations in solution. For crystalline BCOs, the introduction of dispersity leads to a clear decrease of ordering in bulk and it prevents crystallization of the lLA block in solution. This all arises already at a low dispersity (Đ ≤ 1.06), highlighting the effect of dispersity on assemblies of low MW BCOs. It also underlines the need to take dispersity into account when aiming for homogeneous well-defined structures in solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7170-7177
Number of pages8
JournalPolymer Chemistry
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2020


The authors acknowledge financial support from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Gravity program 024.001.035) and the European Research Council (SYNMAT project, ID 788618). I.K.V. acknowledges the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO TA Grant No. (31.015.205) for financial support. The SANS experiments were performed at the LARMOR beamline of ISIS, situated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. We thank Dr Robert Dalgliesh for his assistance acquiring the data and Teun Kleuskens for his work on the synthesis of the disperse building blocks.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme788618
European Research Council
Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap024.001.035
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek31.015.205


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