Supramolecular Dimerization in a Polymer Melt from Small-Angle X-ray Scattering and Rheology: A Miscible Model System



M. Staropoli, M. Kruteva, J. Allgaier, A. Wischnewski, and W. Pyckhout-Hintzen


Polymers, vol. 12, no. 4, art. no. 880, 2020


We present a structural and dynamic study on the simplest supramolecular hetero-association, recently investigated by the authors to prepare architectural homogeneous structures in the melt state, based on the bio-inspired hydrogen-bonding of thymine/diaminotriazine (thy-DAT) base-pairs. In the combination with an amorphous low T-g poly(butylene oxide) (PBO), no micellar structures are formed, which is expected for nonpolar polymers because of noncompatibility with the highly polar supramolecular groups. Instead, a clear polymer-like transient architecture is retrieved. This makes the heterocomplementary thy-DAT association an ideal candidate for further exploitation of the hydrogen-bonding ability in the bulk for self-healing purposes, damage management in rubbers or even the development of easily processable branched polymers with built-in plasticizer. In the present work, we investigate the temperature range from T-g + 20 degrees C to T-g + 150 degrees C of an oligomeric PBO using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and linear rheology on the pure thy and pure DAT monofunctionals and on an equimolar mixture of thy/DAT oligomers. The linear rheology performed at low temperature is found to correspond to fully closed-state dimeric configurations. At intermediate temperatures, SAXS probes the equilibrium between open and closed states of the thy-DAT mixtures. The temperature-dependent association constant in the full range between open and closed H-bonds and an enhancement of the monomeric friction coefficient due to the groups is obtained. The thy-DAT association in the melt is more stable than the DAT-DAT, whereas the thy-thy association seems to involve additional long-lived interactions.



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