Patchy worm-like micelles: solution structure studied by small-angle neutron scattering

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2012 Oct 5;14(37):12750-6. doi: 10.1039/c2cp41231d.


Triblock terpolymers exhibit a rich self-organization behavior including the formation of fascinating cylindrical core-shell structures with a phase separated corona. After crystallization-induced self-assembly of polystyrene-block-polyethylene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) triblock terpolymers (abbreviated as SEMs = Styrene-Ethylene-Methacrylates) from solution, worm-like core-shell micelles with a patchy corona of polystyrene and poly(methyl methacrylate) were observed by transmission electron microscopy. However, the solution structure is still a matter of debate. Here, we present a method to distinguish in situ between a Janus-type (two faced) and a patchy (multiple compartments) configuration of the corona. To discriminate between both models the scattering intensity must be determined mainly by one corona compartment. Contrast variation in small-angle neutron scattering enables us to focus on one compartment of the worm-like micelles. The results validate the existence of the patchy structure also in solution.