Rational synthesis of low-polydispersity block copolymer vesicles in concentrated solution via polymerization-induced self-assembly

C. Gonzato, M. Semsarilar, E.R. Jones, F. Li, G.J.P. Krooshof, P. Wyman, O.O. Mykhaylyk, R. Tuinier, S.P. (Steven) Armes

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Abstract

Block copolymer self-assembly is normally conducted via post-polymerization processing at high dilution. In the case of block copolymer vesicles (or "polymersomes"), this approach normally leads to relatively broad size distributions, which is problematic for many potential applications. Herein we report the rational synthesis of low-polydispersity diblock copolymer vesicles in concentrated solution via polymerization-induced self-assembly using reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization of benzyl methacrylate. Our strategy utilizes a binary mixture of a relatively long and a relatively short poly(methacrylic acid) stabilizer block, which become preferentially expressed at the outer and inner poly(benzyl methacrylate) membrane surface, respectively. Dynamic light scattering was utilized to construct phase diagrams to identify suitable conditions for the synthesis of relatively small, low-polydispersity vesicles. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) was used to verify that this binary mixture approach produced vesicles with significantly narrower size distributions compared to conventional vesicles prepared using a single (short) stabilizer block. Calculations performed using self-consistent mean field theory (SCMFT) account for the preferred self-assembled structures of the block copolymer binary mixtures and are in reasonable agreement with experiment. Finally, both SAXS and SCMFT indicate a significant degree of solvent plasticization for the membrane-forming poly(benzyl methacrylate) chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11100-11106
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Volume136
Issue number31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

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