TEM/EDXS studies of phase separation in block and graft copolymers

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The relationships between molecular parameters and microdomain formation of a variety of block- and graft-copolymers were studied by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Molecular variables included chemical composition: dimethyl-, fluoropropyl and diphenyl-siloxane , sulfone styrene, paramethylstyrene, t-butylstyrene, arylester and methyl methacrylate, as well as molecular weight and distribution. Effects of the kinetics of phase-separation were also determined . Thick (approximately lmm) films cast from solvent showed more complete phase separation than either thin (about 10nm) cast films or compression-molded specimens.

Spherical domains formed in alternating poly(ester/siloxanes), and phase mixing seemed to correlate with the solubility parameters of the three siloxane types. Shear-stresses during molding changed domain shapes and eliminated short-range ordering. In the PMMA-graft-dimethyl siloxane system, SK, 10K and 20K <Mn> siloxanes were incorporated at 16% and 45% by weight. At 16%, spherical siloxane domains formed in both thick- and thin-cast films. The domain sizes and interdomain distances scaled with siloxane molecular weight and total block molecular weight respectively to a 2/3 power law in excellent agreement with theoretical predictions for di- and triblock copolymers. Thin films cast from the 45% siloxane graft copolymers also showed spherical domains with sizes dependent on molecular weight. However, the thick films showed phase transitions from disordered bicontinuous (Mn = 5K) to lamellar (Mn = 10K) to cylindrical <Mn = 20K). Qualitative TEM/EDX analysis of other systems was used to identify oligomers, homopolymers, and contaminants, thus monitoring the effects of novel reaction conditions and work-up procedures.