Polystyrene-b-alkyl, polystyrene-b-polybutadiene-b-polystyrene, and polystyrene-b-poly(propylene glycol)monotridecyl ether were synthesized using macro initiators and atom transfer radical polymerization or by esterifications of homopolymers. The aim was a maximum molecular weight of 4 kg/mol and minimum polystyrene content of 50 w/w%, which by us is predicted as the limits for solubility of polystyrene-b-alkyl in polystyrene. DSC showed polystyrene was plasticized, as seen by a reduction in glass transition temperature, by block copolymers consisting of a polystyrene block with molecular weight of approximately 1 kg/mol and an alkyl block with a molecular weight of approximately of 0.3 kg/mol. The efficiency of the block copolymers as plasticizers increases with decreasing molecular weight and polystyrene content. In addition, polystyrene-b-alkyl is found to be an efficient plasticizer also for polystyrene-b-polyisoprene-b-polystyrene (SIS) block copolymers. The end use properties of SIS plasticized with polystyrene-b-alkyl, measured as tensile strength, is higher than for SIS plasticized with dioctyl adipate. The polystyrene-b-polybutadiene-b-polystyrene and polystyrene-bpoly(propylene glycol)monotridecyl ether series were only partially soluble in polystyrene and insoluble in the polystyrene phase of SIS. For the lowest molecular weight samples, this leads to measurable plasticization of polystyrene but no plasticization of SIS.
Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 2005, Vol 95, Issue 4, p. 981-991