Controlling Polymersome Surface Topology at the Nanoscale by Membrane Confined Polymer/Polymer Phase Separation

Caterina LoPresti, Marzia Massignani, Christine Fernyhough, Adam Blanazs, Anthony J. Ryan, Peter Jeppe Madsen, Nicholas J. Warren, Steven P. Armes, Andrew L. Lewis, Somyot Chirasatitsin, Adam J. Engler, Giuseppe Battaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Nature has the exquisite ability to design specific surface patterns and topologies on both the macro- and nanolength scales that relate to precise functions. Following a biomimetic approach, we have engineered fully synthetic nanoparticles that are able to self-organize their surface into controlled domains. We focused on Polymeric vesicles or "polymersomes"; enclosed membranes formed via self-assembly,of amphiphilic block copolymers In water. Exploiting the Intrinsic thermodynamic tendency of dissimilar polymers to undergo phase separation, we mixed different vesicle forming block copolymers In various proportions In order to obtain a wide range of polymersomes with differing surface domains. Using a combination of confocal laser. scanning microscopy studies of micrometer-sized polymersomes, and electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and fluorescence spectroscopy on nanometer-sized polymersomes, we find that the domains exhibit similar shapes on both the micro- and nanolength scales, with dimensions that are linearly proportional to the vesicle diameter. Finally, we demonstrate that such control over the surface "patchiness" of these polymersomes determines their cell internalization kinetics for live cells.
Original languageEnglish
JournalA C S Nano
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1775-1784
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Polymersomes
  • Patchy nanoparticles
  • Phase separation
  • Endocytosis


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