Synthesis of Monodisperse Cylindrical Nanoparticles via Crystallization-driven Self-assembly of Biodegradable Block Copolymers.

Affiliation

Department of Chemistry, University of Birmingham; [Email]

Abstract

The production of monodisperse cylindrical micelles is a significant challenge in polymer chemistry. Most cylindrical constructs formed from diblock copolymers are produced by one of three techniques: thin film rehydration, solvent switching or polymerization-induced self-assembly, and produce only flexible, polydisperse cylinders. Crystallization-driven self-assembly (CDSA) is a method which can produce cylinders with these properties, by stabilizing structures of a lower curvature due to the formation of a crystalline core. However, the living polymerization techniques by which most core-forming blocks are formed are not trivial processes and the CDSA process may yield unsatisfactory results if carried out incorrectly. Here, the synthesis of cylindrical nanoparticles from simple reagents is shown. The drying and purification of reagents prior to a ring-opening polymerization of ε-caprolactone catalyzed by diphenyl phosphate is described. This polymer is then chain extended by methyl methacrylate (MMA) followed by N,N-dimethyl acrylamide (DMA) using reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) polymerization, affording a triblock copolymer that can undergo CDSA in ethanol. The living CDSA process is outlined, the results of which yield cylindrical nanoparticles up to 500 nm in length and a length dispersity as low as 1.05. It is anticipated that these protocols will allow others to produce cylindrical nanostructures and elevate the field of CDSA in the future.

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