Forced unfolding of single-chain polymeric nanoparticles

N. Hosono, A.M. Kushner, J. Chung, A.R.A. Palmans, Z. Guan, E. W. Meijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)
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Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) is applied to single-chain polymeric nanoparticles (SCPNs) to acquire information about the internal folding structure of SCPNs and inherent kinetic parameters of supramolecular self-assembling motifs embedded into the SCPNs. The SCPNs used here are polyacrylate-based polymers carrying 2-ureido-4-[1H]-pyrimidinone (UPy) or benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide (BTA) pendants that induce an intramolecular chain collapse into nanoparticles consisting of one polymer chain only via internal supramolecular cross-linking. The SCPN is stretched by an AFM cantilever to unfold mechanically, which allows measuring of force-extension profiles of the SCPNs. Consecutive peaks observed in the force profiles are attributed to rupture events of self-assembled UPy/BTA units in the SCPNs. The force profiles have been analyzed statistically for a series of polymers with different UPy/BTA incorporation densities. The results provide insights into the internal conformation of SCPNs, where the folding structure can be changed with the incorporation density of UPy/BTA. In addition, dynamic loading rate analysis allows the determination of kinetic parameters of BTA self-assembly, which has not been accessible by any other method. This study offers a rational tool for understanding the folding structure, kinetics, and pathway of two series of SCPNs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6880-6888
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2015


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