The cooperative assembly of functional precursors with block copolymers (BCPs) is a powerful, general route to fabricate ordered mesoporous materials, but the precise tuning of the mesopore size generally requires trial and error to obtain the correct BCP template or appropriate swelling agent. Here, we demonstrate the ability to effectively modulate both expansion and contraction of the ordered cylindrical mesopores relative to those obtained from cooperatively assembled Pluronic F127, resol, and tetraethylorthosilicate. The two key physical parameters for the swelling agents are their hydrophobicity, as quantified by the octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow), and Hansen solubility parameters that describe the interactions of the solvent with the different components of the BCP template. Four low volatility solvents are examined that span a wide Kow with up to 90 wt % solvent relative to the Pluronic F127. Glycerol triacetate (Kow < 1) can decrease the average mesopore size from 5.9 to 4.8 nm due to segmental screening of the interactions in the Pluronic F127 to decrease chain stretching at intermediate loadings. A modest increase in mesopore size to 8.1 nm can be achieved with trimethylbenzene (TMB, Kow = 3.42). Dioctyl phthalate (DOP), which is slightly more hydrophobic (Kow = 8.1), is more effective than TMB at expanding the pore size (maximum: 13.5 nm) without loss of ordered structure. A more hydrophobic solvent, tris (2-ethylhexyl) trimellitate (Kow = 12.5), is less effective at increasing the pore size (maximum: 8.2 nm). The Hansen solubility parameters for DOP most closely match those of the hydrophobic segment in the Pluronic F217 template. We attribute this similarity, which is related to the solvent quality, to the improved efficacy of DOP in increasing the pore size. These results illustrate that both the Hansen solubility parameters (relative to the hydrophobic segment of the template) and relative hydrophobicity of the swelling agent determine the obtainable pore sizes in cooperatively assembled ordered mesoporous materials.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces