A block copolymer templated approach for the preparation of nanoporous polymer structures and cellulose fiber hybrids by ozone treatment

Functional amphiphilic block copolymers (BCPs) are versatile, smart, and promising materials that are often used as soft templates in nanoscience. BCPs generally feature the capability of microphase-separation leading to various interesting morphologies at the nanometer length scale. Materials derived from BCPs can be converted into porous structures while retaining the underlying morphology of the matrix material. Here, a convenient and scalable approach for the fabrication of porous functional polyvinylpyridines (P2VP) is introduced. The BCP polyisoprene-block-P2VP (PI-b-P2VP) is obtained via sequential anionic polymerization of the respective monomers and used to form either BCP films in the bulk state or a soft template in a composite with cellulose fibers. Cross-linking of the BCPs with 1,4-diiodobutane is conducted and subsequently PI domains are selectively degraded inside the materials using ozone, while preserving the porous and tailor-made P2VP nanostructure. Insights into the feasibility of the herein presented strategy is supported by various polymer characterization methods comprising nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), size exclusion chromatography (SEC), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The resulting bulk- and composite materials are investigated regarding their morphology and pore formation by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Furthermore, chemical conversions were examined by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), attenuated total reflection Fourier-transformation infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and water contact angle (WCA) measurements. By this convenient strategy the fabrication of functional porous P2VP in the bulk state and also within sustainable cellulose composite materials is shown, paving the synthetic strategy for the generation of a new family of stimuli-responsive sustainable materials.