Self-assembly of an azobenzene-containing polymer prepared by a multi-component reaction: supramolecular nanospheres with photo-induced deformation properties†
In this article, we have synthesized a polymer containing regulated azobenzene groups by one-pot multi-component polymerization (MCP) based on Passerini reaction, and investigated its self-assembly behavior and photo-induced deformation properties. We found that this molecule can form spherical structures with sizes ranging from hundreds of nanometers to several micrometers when dissolved in THF. NMR and FTIR studies indicate that there are associated hydrogen bonds among the molecules in the aggregates, which are responsible for the formation of the nanospheres. By controlling the stirring rate as the THF suspension is dropped into water, the nanospheres can be sorted according to their size. In this way, we have obtained nanospheres with relatively uniform diameter. When irradiated by UV light in the aqueous medium, the nanospheres tend to aggregate into large clusters, while in dry state they are ready to merge into island-like structures, showing a good photo-induced deformation property.