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Biomacromolecules. 2005 May-Jun;6(3):1438-47.

Size control of styrene oxide-ethylene oxide diblock copolymer aggregates with classical surfactants: DLS, TEM, and ITC study.

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Grupo de Sistemas Complejos, Laboratorio de Física de Coloides y Polímeros, Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada, Facultad de Física, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The interactions between the diblock copolymer S(15)E(63) and the surfactants sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), sodium decyl sulfate (SDeS), and sodium octyl sulfate (SOS) have been investigated by dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). The surfactants with the same headgroup differentiate in their chain length. At 20 degrees C, the block copolymer is associated into micelles with a hydrodynamic radius of 11.6 nm, which is composed of a hydrophobic styrene oxide (S) core and a water-swollen oxypolyethylene (PEO or E) corona. The different copolymer/surfactant systems have been studied at a constant copolymer concentration of 2.5 g dm(-3) and in a vast range of surfactant concentrations, from 7.5 x 10(-6) up to 0.75 M. When SDS and SDeS are added to the block copolymer solution, different regions are observed in the DLS data: at low surfactant concentrations (c < 1.0 x 10(-4) M), single surfactant molecules associate with the copolymer micelle, probably the former being solubilized in the micelle core, leading to a certain disruption of the mixed micelle due to repulsive electrostatic interactions between surfactant headgroups followed by a stabilization of the mixed micelle. At higher concentrations (1.0 x 10(-4) < c < 0.1 M), two types of copolymer-surfactant complexes coexist: one large copolymer-rich/surfactant complex and one small complex consisting of one or a few copolymer chains and rich in surfactants. At higher SDS and SDeS concentrations, complete disintegration of mixed micelles takes place. In contrast, SOS-S(15)E(63) interactions are less important up to surfactant concentrations of 0.05 M due to its higher hydrophilicity, reducing the hydrophobic interactions between surfactant alkyl chains and copolymer micelles. At concentration larger than the critical aggregation concentration (cac) of the system, 0.05 M, disruption of copolymer micelles occurs. These regions have been confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. On the other hand, the titration calorimetric data for SDS and SDeS present an endothermic increase indicating the formation of mixed copolymer-rich-surfactant micelles. From that point, important differences in the ITC plot for both surfactants are present. However, the ITC curve obtained after titration of a SOS solution in the copolymer solution is quite similar to that of its titration in water.

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