In the present study, Connal and co-workers established a versatile strategy to prepare a diverse range of self-assembled colloidal nanostructures from the same hydrophobic BCP. Polymer nanoparticles with well-ordered phase separated morphology were accessed from the solution self-assembly of a hydrophobic polystyrene-block-poly(2-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P2VP) BCP. However, the introduction of a hydrophilic guest capable of hydrogen bonding with the pyridine block resulted in an amphiphilic BCP, thus drastically altering the self-assembly behavior and leading to traditional spherical micelles in water. Furthermore, a hydrophobic guest was incorporated into the BCP which formed internally nanostructured assemblies in water with the hydrophobic guest entrapped within the nanoparticle. Their methodology can be used to engineer new systems that incorporate and release guests upon triggered disruption of the supramolecular bonds. Furthermore, the diversity of nanostructures that can be tuned by the incorporation of different guests enables opportunities for outstanding control of the nanoparticle properties.
Supramolecular guests in solvent driven block copolymer assembly: from internally structured nanoparticles to micelles by Daniel Klinger, Maxwell J. Robb, Jason M. Spruell, Nathaniel A. Lynd, Craig J. Hawker and Luke A. Connal, Polym. Chem. 2013, 4, 5038-5042.
Julien Nicolas is a guest web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He currently works at Univ. Paris-Sud (FR) as a CNRS researcher.