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Structures et propriétés rhéologiques d’hydrogels à dynamique contrôlée obtenus par l’auto-assemblage de copolymères à blocs amphiphiles

Abstract : Amphiphilic block copolymers are macromolecules composed of at least one hydrophilic block chemically linked to one or several hydrophobic blocks. In water, these macromolecules self-assemble to form micelles composed of a hydrophobic core surrounded by a hydrated hydrophilic corona. The majority of amphiphilic block copolymers form “frozen” micelles in aqueous solution. This means that there is no dynamic exchange of chains between micelles because the energy necessary to extract a hydrophobic block from the core of micelles is too high. Consequently, the characteristics of the micelles are controlled kinetically and not thermodynamically. In order to decrease this energy, we have incorporated acrylic acid units (AA) in the hydrophobic block of poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PnBA). It was previously shown that the incorporation of 50% molar of AA units in the hydrophobic block led to generation of pH-sensitive micelles in the case of PAA-b-P(AA0.5-stat-nBA0.5) diblocks. This thesis presents of a quantitative analysis of the dynamics of self-assembled amphiphilic diblock and triblock copolymer based on acrylic acid units and n-butyl acrylate units. The hydrophobic blocks contained 50% of acrylic acids units incorporated randomly. The block copolymers were synthesized by controlled radical polymerization (ATRP). The influence of the concentration, pH, temperature and the ionic strength on the structure and the mechanical properties of the self-assembled systems was systematically studied. At low concentrations, static light scattering measurements showed the formation of star-like micelles (diblock) or flower-like micelles (triblock) above a critical aggregation concentration (CAC). At higher concentrations, purely repulsive excluded volume interactions between micelles appeared in the case of diblock copolymers. In the case of triblock copolymers bridging of flower-like micelles induced in addition attractive interactions leading to network formation above the percolation concentration. At high ionic strength and low pH, we showed that the attraction between flower-like micelles became sufficiently stong to induce phase separation. Dynamic light scattering measurements showed besides a fast mode due to cooperative diffusion, a second slow relaxation mode that appeared at the percolation concentration. The origin of this mode was explained by a balistic motion induced by the relaxation of heterogeneities inside the system. The velocity of heterogeneities was determined by the mechanical relaxation of the hydrogels. The formation of the network and the exchange dynamic of chains were studied by rheology. The viscosity of solutions increased sharply at the percolation concentration. The terminal visco-elastic relaxation time of the network is related to the lifetime of bridges. It could be controlled and tuned over several decades by varing of pH, temperature and the ionic strength. The in-situ formation of networks revealed an aging of networks after their formation before they reached their stationary state. Aging caused a slow increase of the relaxation time before reaching its steady value. This explains why it is possible to generate homogeneous networks even if the network at steady is kinetically frozen.
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Céline Charbonneau. Structures et propriétés rhéologiques d’hydrogels à dynamique contrôlée obtenus par l’auto-assemblage de copolymères à blocs amphiphiles. Autre. Université du Maine, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012LEMA1016⟩. ⟨tel-00770329⟩

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