Solution small-angle X-ray scattering as a screening and predictive tool in the fabrication of asymmetric block copolymer membranes
R.M. Dorin, D.S. Marques, H. Sai, U. Vainio, W.A. Phillip, K.-V. Peinemann, S.P. Nunes and U. Wiesner
ACS Macro Lett., 1, 614-617, (2012)
Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis of the diblock copolymer poly(styrene-b-(4-vinyl)pyridine) in a ternary solvent system of 1,4-dioxane, tetrahydrofuran, and N,N-dimethylformamide, and the triblock terpolymer poly(isoprene-b-styrene-b-(4-vinyl)pyridine) in a binary solvent system of 1,4-dioxane and tetrahydrofuran, reveals a concentration-dependent onset of ordered structure formation. Asymmetric membranes fabricated from casting solutions with polymer concentrations at or slightly below this ordering concentration possess selective layers with the desired nanostructure. In addition to rapidly screening possible polymer solution concentrations, solution SAXS analysis also predicts hexagonal and square pore lattices of the final membrane surface structure. These results suggest solution SAXS as a powerful tool for screening casting solution concentrations and predicting surface structure in the fabrication of asymmetric ultrafiltration membranes from self-assembled block copolymers.