Mechanistic Insights for Block Copolymer Morphologies: How Do Worms Form Vesicles?

Adam Blanazs, Peter Jeppe Madsen, Giuseppe Battaglia, Anthony J. Ryan, Steven P. Armes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Amphiphilic diblock copolymers composed of two covalently linked, chemically distinct chains can be considered to be biological mimics of cell membrane-forming lipid molecules, but with typically more than an order of magnitude increase in molecular weight. These macromolecular amphiphiles are known to form a wide range of nanostructures (spheres, worms, vesicles, etc.) in solvents that are selective for one of the blocks. However, such self-assembly is usually limited to dilute copolymer solutions (99% monomer conversion) at relatively high solids in purely aqueous solution. Furthermore, careful monitoring of the in situ polymerization by transmission electron microscopy reveals various novel intermediate structures (including branched worms, partially coalesced worms, nascent bilayers, "octopi", "jellyfish", and finally pure vesicles) that provide important mechanistic insights regarding the evolution of the particle morphology during the sphere-to-worm and worm-to-vesicle transitions. This environmentally benign approach (which involves no toxic solvents, is conducted at relatively high solids, and requires no additional processing) is readily amenable to industrial scale-up, since it is based on commercially available starting materials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Volume133
Issue number41
Pages (from-to)16581-16587
Number of pages7
ISSN0002-7863
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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