Composite supramolecular nanoassemblies with independent stimulus sensitivities
Nanoscale assemblies with stimuli-sensitive features have attracted significant attention due to implications in a variety of areas ranging from materials to biology. Recently, there have been excellent developments in obtaining nanoscale structures that are concurrently sensitive to multiple stimuli. Such nanostructures are primarily focused on a single nanostructure containing an appropriate combination of functional groups within the nanostructure. In this work, we outline a simple approach to bring together two disparate supramolecular assemblies that exhibit very different stimuli-sensitive characteristics. These composite nanostructures comprise a block copolymer micelle core and nanogel shell, both of which can preserve their respective morphology and stimulus sensitivities. The block copolymer is based on poly(2-(diisopropylamino)ethylmethacrylate-b-2-aminoethylmethacrylate hydrochloride), which contains a pH-sensitive hydrophobic block. Similarly, the redox-sensitive nanogel is derived from a poly(oligoethyleneglycolmonomethylethermethacrylate-co-glycidylmethacrylate-co-pyridyldisulfide ethylmethacrylate) based random copolymer. In addition to the independent pH-response of the micellar core and redox-sensitivity of the nanogel shell in the composite nanostructures, the synergy between the micelles and the nanogels have been demonstrated through a robust charge generation in the nanogels during the disassembly of the micelles. The supramolecular assembly and disassembly have been characterized using transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, zeta potential measurements, fluorescence spectroscopy and cellular uptake.