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Surface Engineering of Liquid Metal Nanodroplets by Attachable Diblock Copolymers

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journal contribution
posted on 10.07.2020, 16:43 authored by Qiangbing Wei, Mingkang Sun, Zongyu Wang, Jiajun Yan, Rui Yuan, Tong Liu, Carmel Majidi, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski
Liquid metal (LM) micro/nano droplets have promising applications in various fields such as flexible electronics, catalysis, and soft composites as well as biomedicines. However, the preparation of highly stable LM nanodroplets suspension based on eutectic gallium/indium (EGaIn) alloys is still challenging. Herein, we report a general and robust strategy to fabricate EGaIn nanodroplets stabilized by polymer brushes (polymer brushes/EGaIn nanodroplets) via in situ attachment of well-defined diblock copolymers with short poly­(acrylic acid) (PAA) anchoring segments. Under ultrasonication, the anchoring PAA block is in situ attached onto the gallium oxide “skin” layer of EGaIn nanodroplets to form polymer brushes. The attachable diblock copolymer surfactants allow for highly efficient formation of EGaIn nanodroplets in high yield and with narrow size distribution. The polymer brushes/EGaIn nanodroplets contain very low fractions of attached polymer (<1 wt %) and exhibit high colloidal stability (>30 days) and good redispersibility. Precise control of polymer architecture by atom-transfer radical polymerization was employed to prepare various block copolymers for suspensions in a variety of solvents.