On the origins of morphological complexity in block copolymer surfactants

Sumeet Jain, Frank S. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

986 Scopus citations


Amphiphilic compounds such as lipids and surfactants are fundamental building blocks of soft matter. We describe experiments with poly(1,2-butadiene-bethylene oxide) (PB-PEO) diblock copolymers, which form Y-junctions and three-dimensional networks in water at weight fractions of PEO intermediate to those associated with vesicle and wormlike micelle morphologies. Fragmentation of the network produces a nonergodic array of complex reticulated particles that have been imaged by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. Data obtained with two sets of PB-PEO compounds indicate that this type of self-assembly appears above a critical molecular weight. These block copolymers represent versatile amphiphiles, mimicking certain low molecular weight three-component (surfactant/water/oil) microemulsions, without addition of a separate hydrophobe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-464
Number of pages5
Issue number5618
StatePublished - Apr 18 2003

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