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Biomacromolecules. 2004 Sep-Oct;5(5):2042-7.

Study of the synthesis, crystallization, and morphology of poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(epsilon-caprolactone) diblock copolymers.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Polymer Physics and Chemistry, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 130022, People's Republic of China.


Poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(epsilon-caprolactone) diblock copolymers PEG-PCL were synthesized by ring-opening polymerization of epsilon-caprolactone using monomethoxy poly(ethylene glycol) as the macroinitiator and calcium ammoniate as the catalyst. Obvious mutual influence between PEG and PCL crystallization was studied by altering the relative block length. Fixing the length of the PEG block (Mn = 5000) and increasing the length of the PCL block, the crystallization temperature of the PCL block rose gradually from 1 to about 35 degrees C while that of the PEG block dropped from 36 to -6.6 degrees C. Meanwhile, the melting temperature of the PCL block went up from 30 to 60 degrees C, while that of the PEG block declined from 60 to 41 degrees C. If the PCL block was longer than the PEG block, the former would crystallize first when cooling from a molten state and led to obviously imperfect crystallization of PEG and vice versa. And they both crystallized at the same temperature, if their weight fractions were equal. We found that the PEG block could still crystallize at -6.6 degrees C even when its weight fraction is only 14%. A unique morphology of concentric spherulites was observed for PEG5000-PCL5000. According to their morphology and real-time growth rates, it is concluded that the central and outer sections in the concentric spherulites were PCL and PEG, respectively, and during the formation of the concentric spherulite, the PEG crystallized quickly from the free space of the PCL crystal at the earlier stage, followed by outgrowing from the PCL spherulites in the direction of right angles to the circle boundaries until the entire area was occupied.

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