Due to their distinctive molecular architecture, ABA triblock copolymers will undergo specific self-assembly processes into various nanostructures upon introduction into a B-block selective solvent. Although much of the focus in ABA triblock copolymer self-assembly has been on equilibrium nanostructures, little attention has been paid to the guiding principles of nanostructure formation during non-equilibrium processing conditions. Here we report a universal and quantitative method for fabricating and controlling ABA triblock copolymer hierarchical structures using solvent-non-solvent rapid-injection processing. Plasmonic nanocomposite hydrogels containing gold nanoparticles and hierarchically-ordered hydrogels exhibiting structural color can be assembled within one minute using this rapid-injection technique. Surprisingly, the rapid-injection hydrogels display superior mechanical properties compared with those of conventional ABA hydrogels. This work will allow for translation into technologically relevant areas such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and soft robotics, in which structure and mechanical property precision are essential.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)