All matter consists of a number of phases—areas of the space with a uniform structure and bodily properties. The common phases of H2O also referred to as ice, water and steam, are well-known. Equally, although much less familiar, maybe, polymeric supplies can also form totally different solid or liquid phases that decide their properties and ultimate utility. That is very true of block copolymers, the self-assembling macromolecules created when a polymer chain of one type (“Block A”) is chemically linked with that of a different type (“Block B”).
“If you would like a block copolymer that has a certain property, you decide the right phase for a given software of interest,” defined Chris Bates, an assistant professor of materials in the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering. “For the rubber in shoes, you need one part; to make a membrane, you desire a completely different one.”
Only about five phases have been found within the easiest block copolymers. Discovering a new phase is uncommon, however, Bates and a group of different UC Santa Barbara researchers adding professors Glenn Fredrickson and Craig Hawker (materials), Morgan Bates, staff scientist and assistant director for technology at the Dow Materials Institute at UCSB, and postdoctoral researcher Joshua Lequieu, have carried out just that. About 12 months in the past, Morgan Bates was performing some experimental work on polymers she had produced in the lab, in an effort, she mentioned, “to know the basic parameters that govern self-assembly of block copolymers by analyzing what happens once you tweak block chemistry.”