Dendritic Micelles with Controlled Branching and Sensor Applications

Yifan Zhang, Samuel Pearce, Jean Charles Eloi, Robert L. Harniman, Jia Tian, Cristina Cordoba, Yuetong Kang, Tomoya Fukui, Huibin Qiu, Arthur Blackburn, Robert M. Richardson, Ian Manners*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Although micelles derived from the solution self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules and polymers have been prepared with a wide variety of shapes, examples with well-defined branched structures have remained elusive. We describe a divergent, directed self-assembly approach to low dispersity dendritic micelles with a high degree of structural perfection and tailorable branch numbers and generations. We use block copolymer amphiphiles as precursors and a crystallization-driven seeded growth approach whereby the termini of fiber-like micelles function as branching sites. Different dendrimeric generations are accessible by adjusting the ratio of added unimers to pre-existing seed micelles where the branch positions are determined by the reduced coronal chain grafting density on the surface of the micelle crystalline core. We demonstrate the spatially defined decoration of the assemblies with emissive nanoparticles and utility of the resulting hybrids as fluorescent sensors for anions where the dendritic architecture enables ultrahigh sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5805-5814
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by NSERC in the form of a Canada 150 Research Chair (to IM) and a Discovery Grant. Initial studies were funded by a European Research Council Advanced Research Grant. We thank the Chemical Imaging Facility at the University of Bristol for use of bright-field TEM, STEM-EDX, SAED, and AFM analysis, and the Centre for Advanced Materials and Related Technology (CAMTEC) at the University of Victoria for the related characterization. We thank Prof. Leigh Anne Swayne for access to the STED instrument.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


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