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Expanded Kinetic Control for Persistent Micelle Templates with Solvent Selection

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journal contribution
posted on 27.04.2018, 00:00 by Amrita Sarkar, Laurel Evans, Morgan Stefik
The precision control of nanoscale materials remains a challenge for the study of nanostructure–performance relationships. Persistent micelle templates (PMT) are a kinetic-controlled self-assembly approach that decouples pore and wall control. Here, block copolymer surfactants form persistent micelles that maintain constant template size as material precursors are added, despite the shifting equilibrium dimensions. Earlier PMT demonstrations were based upon solvent mixtures where kinetic rates were adjusted with the amount of water cosolvent. This approach is however limited because ever-higher water contents can lead to secondary porosity within the material walls. Herein, we report an improved method to regulate the PMT kinetics via the majority solvent. This enables a new avenue for the expansion of the PMT window to realize templated materials with a greater extent of tunability. In addition, we report a new small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS)-based log–log analysis method to independently test the micelle-templated series for consistency with the expected lattice expansion with an increasing material:template ratio. The PMT window identified by the log–log analysis of the SAXS data agreed well with independent scanning electron microscopy measurements. The combination of improved micelle control with solvent selection along with SAXS validation will accelerate the development of a myriad of nanomaterial applications.

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