Supramolecular guests in solvent driven block copolymer assembly: from internally structured nanoparticles to micelles

Klinger, D.; Robb, M.J.; Spruell, J.M.; Lynd, N.A.; Hawker, C.J.
Polym. Chem.
4, 5038-5042

Supramolecular interactions between different hydrogen-bonding guests and poly(2-vinylpyridine)-block-poly(styrene) can be exploited to prepare remarkably diverse self-assembled nanostructures in dispersion from a single block copolymer (BCP). The characteristics of the BCP can be efficiently controlled by tailoring the properties of a guest which preferentially binds to the P2VP block. For example, the incorporation of a hydrophobic guest creates a hydrophobic BCP complex that forms phase separated nanoparticles upon self-assembly. Conversely, the incorporation of a hydrophilic guest results in an amphiphilic BCP complex that forms spherical micelles in water. The ability to tune the self-assembly behavior and access dramatically different nanostructures from a single BCP substrate demonstrates the exceptional versatility of the self-assembly of BCPs driven by supramolecular interactions. This approach represents a new methodology that will enable the further design of complex, responsive self-assembled nanostructures.