The spontaneous one-step synthesis of hollow nanocages and nanotubes from spherical and cylindrical micelles based on poly(acrylic acid)-b-polylactide (P(AA)-b-P(LA)) block copolymers (BCPs) has been achieved. This structural reorganization, which occurs simply upon drying of the samples, was elucidated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We show that it was necessary to use stain-free imaging to examine these nanoscale assemblies, as the hollow nature of the particles was obscured by application of a heavy metal stain. Additionally, the internal topology of the P(AA)-b-P(LA) particles could be tuned by manipulating the drying conditions to give solid or compartmentalized structures. Upon resuspension, these reorganized nanoparticles retain their hollow structure and display significantly enhanced loading of a hydrophobic dye compared to the original solid cylinders.
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Materials and Interface Chemistry
Facility/equipment: Research lab