Association Behavior of Amphiphilic ABA Triblock Copolymer Composed of Poly(2-methoxyethyl acrylate) (A) and Poly(ethylene oxide) (B) in Aqueous Solution

Polymers (Basel). 2022 Apr 20;14(9):1678. doi: 10.3390/polym14091678.


Poly(2-methoxyethyl acrylate) (PMEA) and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) have protein-antifouling properties and blood compatibility. ABA triblock copolymers (PMEAl-PEO11340-PMEAm (MEOMn; n is average value of l and m)) were prepared using single-electron transfer-living radical polymerization (SET-LRP) using a bifunctional PEO macroinitiator. Two types of MEOMn composed of PMEA blocks with degrees of polymerization (DP = n) of 85 and 777 were prepared using the same PEO macroinitiator. MEOMn formed flower micelles with a hydrophobic PMEA (A) core and hydrophilic PEO (B) loop shells in diluted water with a similar appearance to petals. The hydrodynamic radii of MEOM85 and MEOM777 were 151 and 108 nm, respectively. The PMEA block with a large DP formed a tightly packed core. The aggregation number (Nagg) of the PMEA block in a single flower micelle for MEOM85 and MEOM777 was 156 and 164, respectively, which were estimated using a light scattering technique. The critical micelle concentrations (CMCs) for MEOM85 and MEOM777 were 0.01 and 0.002 g/L, respectively, as determined by the light scattering intensity and fluorescence probe techniques. The size, Nagg, and CMC for MEOM85 and MEOM777 were almost the same independent of hydrophobic DP of the PMEA block.

Keywords: amphiphilic copolymer; flower-like micelle; poly(ethylene oxide); single-electron transfer-living radical polymerization; triblock copolymer.