Swelling of block copolymer nanoparticles: a process combining deformation and phase separation

Langmuir. 2013 Apr 9;29(14):4640-6. doi: 10.1021/la400390b. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Swelling of block copolymers is a complex process in which deformation and microphase separation couple together. Here we demonstrated that nanoparticles of block copolymers and polymer composites which have a large variety of phase separation patterns and different shapes can be generated through swelling process. Particularly, we focused on the swelling process of lamellae-forming diblock copolymer nanoparticles and first observed the formation of terrace edges in diblock copolymer nanoparticles as a metastable microstructure in swelling. Moreover, the trace amount of swelling solvent shows a significant influence on the shape of polymer nanoparticles, leading to block copolymer nanodisks and snowman-like composite nanoparticles.