An Insight into the Structure of Copolymer Surfactants

The structure of inhomogeneous (core-shell) nanoparticles was studied with small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The internal structure of Pluronic P123 micelles in water was determined by calculating the radial electron density profile.

Surfactants and SAXS

Pluronic P123 is amphiphilic triblock copolymer. Its nominal formula is PEO20-PPO70-PEO20 (PEO: poly-ethylene glycol; PPO: polypropylene glycol). In aque-ous solution it forms micellar systems of various ge-ometries depending on concentration. P123 is a commonly used structure directing agent in the syn-thesis of mesoporous materials (e. g., SBA-15).

Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) allows to obtain the shape and size of such nano-sized micelles and - due to its sensitivity to electron-density differences - to determine the internal (core-shell) structure. This is of great importance for understanding and controlling the role of surfactants in different materials, e.g. the stabil-ity of emulsions or the release rate of the active ingre-dient in drug carrier systems.

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