Tuning structure and properties of graded triblock terpolymer-based mesoporous and hybrid films

Nano Lett. 2011 Jul 13;11(7):2892-900. doi: 10.1021/nl2013554. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Despite considerable efforts toward fabricating ordered, water-permeable, mesoporous films from block copolymers, fine control over pore dimensions, structural characteristics, and mechanical behavior of graded structures remains a major challenge. To this end, we describe the fabrication and performance characteristics of graded mesoporous and hybrid films derived from the newly synthesized triblock terpolymer, poly(isoprene-b-styrene-b-4-vinylpyridine). A unique morphology, unachievable in diblock copolymer systems, with enhanced mechanical integrity is evidenced. The film structure comprises a thin selective layer containing vertically aligned and nearly monodisperse mesopores at a density of more than 10(14) per m(2) above a graded macroporous layer. Hybridization via homopolymer blending enables tuning of pore size within the range of 16 to 30 nm. Solvent flow and solute separation experiments demonstrate that the terpolymer films have permeabilities comparable to commercial membranes, are stimuli-responsive, and contain pores with a nearly monodisperse diameter. These results suggest that moving to multiblock polymers and their hybrids may open new paths to produce high-performance graded membranes for filtration, separations, nanofluidics, catalysis, and drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nanotechnology
  • Particle Size
  • Polystyrenes / chemistry*
  • Polyvinyls / chemistry*
  • Porosity
  • Pyridines / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Polystyrenes
  • Polyvinyls
  • Pyridines