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Nanophase Separation of Poly(N‑alkyl acrylamides): The Dependence of the Formation of Lamellar Structures on Their Alkyl Side Chains

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journal contribution
posted on 13.12.2019, 20:05 by Kazuki Ebata, Yuki Hashimoto, Shunsuke Yamamoto, Masaya Mitsuishi, Shusaku Nagano, Jun Matsui
In this study, poly­(N-alkyl acrylamides) [(pAlkylAms)], which contain alkyl side chains that differ with respect to the chain length (n; n = 4–18), were synthesized and the formation of lamellar structures via nanophase separation was examined. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements indicated that p­(AlkylAms) (n = 4–15) powders are amorphous at 20 °C, whereas p­(AlkylAms) (n ≥ 16) contain partially crystalized side chains. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns of the spin-coated films of p­(AlkylAms) (n = 4–15) exhibited broad diffraction peaks that correspond to the nanosegregated alkyl side chain domains (qnd), while the spectra of the polymer films of p­(AlkylAms) (n ≥ 16) exhibited both qnd and diffraction corresponding to crystalized side chains (qca). The spin-coated films were annealed in water (water annealing) for 12 h to induce nanophase separation and then characterized using XRD. The XRD results for the water-annealed films were categorized into three groups. The first group comprised of p­(AlkylAms) (n = 4–7), which showed XRD patterns similar to those of the pristine films. The second group contained p­(AlkylAms) (n = 8–14), which exhibited strong Bragg diffraction peaks that correspond to lamellar structures (qlm). The last group was composed of p­(AlkylAms) (n ≥ 15), which exhibited not only qlm but also qca. The results indicate that in p­(AlkylAms) (n ≥ 8), the nanosegregation force between the hydrophilic main chain and the hydrophobic side chains is sufficient to produce an amorphous film with a lamellar structure. Furthermore, based on a comparison of the lamellar structure of p­(AlkylAms) (n = 18) prepared by conventional thermal annealing with the structure obtained using water annealing, we concluded that nanosegregation competes with side-chain crystallization.