Periodically Clickable Polyesters: Study of Intrachain Self-Segregation Induced Folding, Crystallization, and Mesophase Formation

A series of polyesters based on 2-propargyl-1,3-propanediol or 2,2-dipropargyl-1,3-propanediol or 2-allyl-2-propargyl-1,3-propanediol and 1,20-eicosanedioic acid were prepared by solution polycondensation using the corresponding diacid chloride; these polyesters were quantitatively “clicked” with a fluoroalkyl azide, namely CF<sub>3</sub>(CF<sub>2</sub>)<sub>7</sub>CH<sub>2</sub>CH<sub>2</sub>N<sub>3</sub>, to yield polyesters carrying long-chain alkylene segments in the backbone and either one or two perfluoroalkyl segments located at periodic intervals along the polymer chain. The immiscibility of the alkylene and fluoroalkyl segments causes the polymer chains to fold in a zigzag fashion to facilitate the segregation of these segments; the folded chains further organize in the solid state to form a lamellar structure with alternating domains of alkyl (HC) and fluoroalkyl (FC) segments. Evidence for the self-segregation is provided by DSC, SAXS, WAXS, and TEM studies; in two of the samples, the DSC thermograms showed two distinct endotherms associated with the melting of the individual domains, while the WAXS patterns confirm the existence of two separate peaks corresponding to the interchain distances within the crystalline lattices of the HC and FC domains. SAXS data, on the other hand, reveal the formation of an extended lamellar morphology with an interlamellar spacing that matches reasonably well with those estimated from TEM studies. Interestingly, a smectic-type liquid crystalline phase is observed at temperatures between the two melting transitions. These systems present a unique opportunity to develop interesting nanostructured polymeric materials with precise control over both the domain size and morphology; importantly, the domain sizes are far smaller than those typically observed in traditional block copolymers.