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Intramolecular Conflict: Conformation and Self-Assembly of Architecturally Complex Macromolecules in Solution


Pirogovsky, Paul Peter (2014) Intramolecular Conflict: Conformation and Self-Assembly of Architecturally Complex Macromolecules in Solution. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0DXJ-3H18.


The solution behavior of linear polymer chains is well understood, having been the subject of intense study throughout the previous century. As plastics have become ubiquitous in everyday life, polymer science has grown into a major field of study. The conformation of a polymer in solution depends on the molecular architecture and its interactions with the surroundings. Developments in synthetic techniques have led to the creation of precision-tailored polymeric materials with varied topologies and functionalities. In order to design materials with the desired properties, it is imperative to understand the relationships between polymer architecture and their conformation and behavior. To meet that need, this thesis investigates the conformation and self-assembly of three architecturally complex macromolecular systems with rich and varied behaviors driven by the resolution of intramolecular conflicts. First we describe the development of a robust and facile synthetic approach to reproducible bottlebrush polymers (Chapter 2). The method was used to produce homologous series of bottlebrush polymers with polynorbornene backbones, which revealed the effect of side-chain and backbone length on the overall conformation in both good and theta solvent conditions (Chapter 3). The side-chain conformation was obtained from a series of SANS experiments and determined to be indistinguishable from the behavior of free linear polymer chains. Using deuterium-labeled bottlebrushes, we were able for the first time to directly observe the backbone conformation of a bottlebrush polymer which showed self-avoiding walk behavior. Secondly, a series of SANS experiments was conducted on a homologous series of Side Group Liquid Crystalline Polymers (SGLCPs) in a perdeuterated small molecule liquid crystal (5CB). Monodomain, aligned, dilute samples of SGLCP-b-PS block copolymers were seen to self-assemble into complex micellar structures with mutually orthogonally oriented anisotropies at different length scales (Chapter 4). Finally, we present the results from the first scattering experiments on a set of fuel-soluble, associating telechelic polymers. We observed the formation of supramolecular aggregates in dilute (≤0.5wt%) solutions of telechelic polymers and determined that the choice of solvent has a significant effect on the strength of association and the size of the supramolecules (Chapter 5). A method was developed for the direct estimation of supramolecular aggregation number from SANS data. The insight into structure-property relationships obtained from this work will enable the more targeted development of these molecular architectures for their respective applications.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Polymer Physics, SANS, DLS, Bottlebrush, Telechelic, Side-Group Liquid Crystalline Polymer, ROMP, ATRP, Scattering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kornfield, Julia A.
Thesis Committee:
  • Kornfield, Julia A. (chair)
  • Davis, Mark E.
  • Tirrell, David A.
  • Wang, Zhen-Gang
Defense Date:1 November 2013
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:11182013-104133647
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8028
Deposited By: Paul Pirogovsky
Deposited On:02 Nov 2015 17:28
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:03

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