Oligodimethylsiloxane-Oligoproline Block Co-Oligomers: The Interplay between Aggregation and Phase Segregation in Bulk and Solution

Brigitte A.G. Lamers, Andreas Herdlitschka, Tobias Schnitzer, Mathijs F.J. Mabesoone, Sandra M.C. Schoenmakers, Bas F.M. de Waal, Anja R.A. Palmans, Helma Wennemers, and E.W. Meijer

Published: 17 March 2021


Discrete block co-oligomers (BCOs) assemble into highly ordered nanostructures, which adopt a variety of morphologies depending on their environment. Here, we present a series of discrete oligodimethylsiloxane-oligoproline (oDMS-oPro) BCOs with varying oligomer lengths and proline end-groups, and study the nanostructures formed in both bulk and solution. The conjugation of oligoprolines to apolar siloxanes permits a study of the aggregation behavior of oligoproline moieties in a variety of solvents, including a highly apolar solvent like methylcyclohexane. The apolar solvent is more reminiscent of the polarity of the siloxane bulk, which gives insights into the supramolecular interactions that govern both bulk and solution assembly processes of the oligoproline. This extensive structural characterization allows the bridging of the gap between solution and bulk assembly. The interplay between the aggregation of the oligoproline block and the phase segregation induced by the siloxane drives the assembly. This gives rise to disordered, micellar microstructures in apolar solution and crystallization-driven lamellar nanostructures in the bulk. While most di- and triblock co-oligomers adopt predictable morphological features, one of them, oDMS15oPro6-NH2, exhibits pathway complexity leading to gel formation. The pathway selection in the complex interplay between aggregation and phase segregation gives rise to interesting material properties.

Full Access Link: Journal of the American Chemical Society