Influence of Solvent on the Structure of an Amphiphilic Block Copolymer in Solution and in Formation of an Integral Asymmetric Membrane
AbstractNanoporous membranes with tailored size pores and multifunctionality derived from self-assembled block copolymers attract growing interest in ultrafiltration. The influence of the structure of block copolymer in the membrane casting solution on the formation of integral asymmetric isoporous block copolymer membranes using the nonsolvent induced phase separation process (NIPS) has been one of the long-standing questions in this research area. In this work we studied the principal role of the solvent on the micellization and self-assembly of asymmetric polystyrene-block-poly(4-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P4VP) diblock copolymers by using a combination of dynamic light scattering (DLS) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Our results indicate a significant effect of the solvent selectivity on the optimal casting concentration and solution structure. In addition, morphological characterization of the resulting membranes demonstrates considerable influence of the solvent system on the ordering and uniformity of the pores and pore characteristics in the separation layer as well as porous substructure of the final membranes.