Paper of the week: Polymer patchy colloids with sticky patches

Patchy particles (PPs) are colloidal particles with a chemically or physically patterned surface. The patchy domains may provide specific and directional interactions with other particles or surfaces and therefore PPs can self- and direct-assemble into novel suprastructures which can find applications in the delivery of drugs or other chemicals, electronic devices, photonic crystals, and sensors. Currently, the preparation of PPs mainly focuses on templating or chemical patterning, glancing angle deposition, particle lithography, capillary fluid flow, and self-assembly of pre-synthesized block copolymers. These approaches, however, are difficult to scale up because of demanding synthetic routes or owing to intrinsic limitations related to the preparation process, and therefore hamper the study and development of PPs.

Graphical abstract: Polymer patchy colloids with sticky patches

In this study, Crespy and co-workers developed an easy, low-cost and mild strategy to fabricate PPs in large quantities without using block copolymers. Polymerization-induced phase separation was found to be the reason for the formation of the PPs. The size of the patches could be easily tuned by controlling the monomer conversion or by changing the composition of the nanoparticles. The atomic force microscopy analysis revealed that the patches were sticky and embedded in a harder polymer matrix. Moreover, the patchy structure could be locked by cross-linking the sticky patches. Their approach could be extended to prepare large libraries of different PPs by choosing other polymer/monomer pairs and/or by post-functionalizing the patchy area.

Polymer patchy colloids with sticky patches by Yi Zhao, Rüdiger Berger, Katharina Landfester and Daniel Crespy Polym. Chem. 2014, 5, 365-371.

Julien Nicolas is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He currently works at Univ. Paris-Sud (FR) as a CNRS researcher.

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