Three fluorinated, hydrophobic initiators have been utilised for the synthesis of low molecular mass fluoro-poly(acrylic acid) heterotelechelic homopolymers to mimic high chi (χ)–low N diblock copolymers with ultrafine domains of sub-2 nm length scale. Polymers were obtained by a simple photoinduced copper(II)-mediated reversible-deactivation radical polymerisation (Cu-RDRP) affording low molecular mass (<3 kDa) and low dispersity (Đ = 1.04–1.21) homopolymers. Heating/cooling ramps were performed on bulk samples (ca. 250 μm thick) to obtain thermodynamically stable nanomorpologies of lamellar (LAM) or hexagonally packed cylinders (HEX), as deduced by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Construction of the experimental phase diagram alongside a detailed theoretical model demonstrated typical rod–coil block copolymer phase behaviour for these fluoro-poly(acrylic acid) homopolymers, where the fluorinated initiator-derived segment acts as a rod and the poly(acrylic acid) as a coil. This work reveals that these telechelic homopolymers mimic high χ-ultralow N diblock copolymers and enables reproducible targeting of nanomorphologies with incredibly small, tunable domain size.
Bibliographical note© 2022 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Data availability: Raw data including DSC, GPC, MALDI TOF MS, NMR and SAXS (including movies) is available to download at https://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/163791/.