Control of hard block segments of methacrylate based triblock copolymers for enhanced electromechanical performance

Control of hard block segments of methacrylate based triblock copolymers for enhanced electromechanical performance
block copolymers; elastomers; microphase separation; electromechanical property
Issue Date
Polymer Chemistry
VOL 7, NO 48-7399
A series of well-defined hard&#8211; soft&#8211; hard triblock copolymers were synthesized by Ru-based atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) (MWD < 1.26) in order to examine their electromechanical properties under electric fields. The obtained methacrylate based triblock copolymers consisted of poly(dodecyl methacrylate) (PDMA) soft middle block segments and three different hard block segments with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), poly(tert-butyl methacrylate) (PtBMA), and their random copolymers (PMTDTMTs). Polar acidified triblock copolymers were also prepared by deprotecting tert-butyl groups in tBMA-incorporating hard block segments through simple thermal treatment at 200 °C for 120 min, which in situ gave poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) and its random copolymers (PAMDMA) in the hard block segments. SAXS and AFM studies indicated that these triblock copolymers showed well-organized phase separations with different domain sizes, which were strongly dependent on the amount of bulky PtBMA or polar PMAA in the hard block segments. In addition, these triblock copolymers had a variety of morphologies affecting their mechanical (elastic modulus) and electrical (dielectric constant) properties, leading to a tuning of their electromechanical properties. The transverse strains of these triblock random copolymers as a function of an applied electric field indicated that the PTMDMT series possessed the best electromechanical properties, exhibiting an 11-fold enhancement relative to the corresponding acidified polymer PAMDMA at 50 Vpp μm&#8722; 1 due to a dramatic decrease of the elastic modulus from 4.04 to 0.05 MPa in spite of an increase of the dielectric constant from 3.6 to 5.1. In situ SAXS analysis under an electric field showed that these bulk strains originated from nano-structured microdomain changes.
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