Photoresponsive polymer nanocarriers with multifunctional cargo
Nanoparticles with photoresponsive character can be assembled from amphiphilic macromolecular components and hydrophobic chromophores. In aqueous solutions, the hydrophobic domains of these species associate to produce spontaneously nanosized hosts with multiple photoresponsive guests in their interior. The modularity of this supramolecular approach to nanostructured assemblies permits the co-encapsulation of distinct subsets of guests within the very same host. In turn, the entrapped guests can be designed to interact upon light excitation and exchange electrons, energy or protons. Such photoinduced processes permit the engineering of properties into these supramolecular constructs that would otherwise be impossible to replicate with the separate components. Alternatively, noninteracting guests with distinct functions can be entrapped in these supramolecular containers to ensure multifunctional character. In fact, biocompatible luminescent probes with unique photochemical and photophysical signatures have already emerged from these fascinating investigations. Thus, polymer nanocarriers can become invaluable supramolecular scaffolds for the realization of multifunctional and photoresponsive tools for a diversity of biomedical applications.