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Extending the Scope of “Living” Crystallization-Driven Self Assembly: Well-Defined 1D Micelles and Block Comicelles from Crystallizable Polycarbonate Block Copolymers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Early online date4 Nov 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 2 Nov 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 4 Nov 2018


Fiber-like block copolymer (BCP) micelles offer considerable potential for a variety of applications, however, uniform sam-ples of controlled length and with spatially tailored chemistry have not been accessible. Recently, a seeded growth method, termed ‘living’ crystallization-driven self-assembly (CDSA), has been developed to allow the formation of 1D micelles and block comicelles of precisely controlled dimensions from BCPs with a crystallizable segment. An expansion of the range of core forming blocks that participate in living CDSA is necessary for this technique to be compatible with a broad range of applications. Few examples currently exist of well-defined, water-dispersible BCP micelles prepared using this approach, especially from biocompatible and biodegradable polymers. Herein, we demonstrate that BCPs containing a crystallizable polycarbonate, poly(spiro[fluorene-9,5’-[1,3]dioxin]-2’-one) (PFTMC), can readily undergo living CDSA processes. PFTMC b poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) BCPs with PFTMC:PEG block ratios of 1:11 and 1:25 were shown to undergo liv-ing CDSA to form near monodisperse fiber like micelles of precisely controlled lengths of up to ~1.6 m. Detailed structur-al characterization of these micelles by TEM, AFM, SAXS and WAXS, revealed that they comprise a crystalline, chain folded PFTMC core with a rectangular cross-section that is surrounded by a solvent swollen PEG corona. PFTMC b PEG fiber-like micelles were shown to be dispersible in water to give colloidally stable solutions. This allowed an assessment of the toxicity of these structures towards WI-38 and HeLa cells. From these experiments, we observed no discernable cytotoxi-city from a sample of 119 nm fiber-like micelles to either the healthy (WI-38) or cancerous (HeLa) cell types. The living CDSA process was extended to PFTMC-b-poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP), and addition of this BCP to PFTMC-b-PEG seed micelles led to the formation of well-defined segmented fibers with spatially localized coronal chemistries.

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