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Characterization of Self-Assembled Functional Polymeric Nanostructures: I. Magnetic Nanostructures from Metallopolymers II. Zwitterionic Polymer Vesicles in Ionic Liquid

Two diverse projects illustrate the application of various materials characterization techniques to investigate the structure and properties of nanostructured functional materials formed in both bulk as well as in solutions. In the first project, ordered magnetic nanostructures were formed within polymer matrix by novel metallopolymers. The novel metal-functionalized block copolymers (BCPs) enabled the confinement of cobalt metal ions within nanostructured BCP domains, which upon simple heat treatment resulted in room temperature ferromagnetic (RTFM) materials. On the contrary, cobalt functionalized homopolymer having similar chemical structure and higher loading of metal-ion are unstructured and exhibited superparamagnetic (SPM) behavior at room temperature. Based on a series of detailed investigations, using various materials characterization techniques, it was hypothesized that the SPM cobalt particles within BCP microdomains exhibited a collective behavior due to increased dipolar interactions between them under the nanoconfinement of cylindrical domains in BCP, resulting in RTFM behavior. On contrary, the same SPM cobalt particles formed within homopolymer, without any confinement exhibited SPM behavior either due to lack of interactions or random interactions between them. To further support this hypothesis, a series of BCPs were prepared in which the BCP morphology was varied between the cylindrical, lamellar, and inverted cylindrical phases and their magnetic properties were compared. All these BCPs, which are nanostructured, exhibited RTFM behavior, further supporting the proposed hypothesis. Different dimensionality or degree of nanoconfinement in BCP morphologies affected the magnetization reversal processes in these BCPs, yielding different macroscopic magnetic properties. Most strongly constrained cylindrical morphology has shown best magnetic properties (highest coercivity) among other BCP morphologies. Inverted cylindrical morphology, in which a 3-D matrix is confined between the non-magnetic cylinders, had second highest and lamellar morphology with least confinement among BCPs, exhibited lowest coercivity. The proposed hypothesis was further tested by systematically varying the dipolar interactions between the SPM cobalt nanoparticles by reducing the density of cobalt within the cylindrical domains and varying the dimensions of the cylindrical domains (i.e. diameter). A series of novel ferrocene-cobalt containing block copolymers were developed and cobalt density within the cylindrical domains of BCP was varied by changing the chemical composition of the metal functionalized block. Further, the diameter of the cylindrical domains was varied by varying the molecular weight of the cobalt-containing BCPs. These studies allowed us to understand the fundamental correlations between the self-assembled nanostructures and their macroscopic magnetic properties. In the second part of the thesis, a novel amphiphilic block copolymer (ABC), composed of a hydrophilic zwitterionic block and a hydrophobic PS block, was synthesized by ROMP. The formation of zwitterionic vesicles in an ionic liquid, as well as in PBS buffer, was confirmed by TEM and DLS characterization. The dispersion of vesicles within ionic liquid enabled the usage of conventional, room temperature TEM to visualize them in their solution state. This technique of materials characterization could be extended for the visualization of other hydrophilic soft matter.
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