Self-assembly concepts for multicompartment nanostructures
Compartmentalization is ubiquitous to many biological and artificial systems, be it for the separate storage of incompatible matter or to isolate transport processes. Advancements in the synthesis of sequential block copolymers offer a variety of tools to replicate natural design principles with tailor-made soft matter for the precise spatial separation of functionalities on multiple length scales. Here, we review recent trends in the self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymers to multicompartment nanostructures (MCNs) under (semi-)dilute conditions, with special emphasis on ABC triblock terpolymers. The intrinsic immiscibility of connected blocks induces short-range repulsion into discrete nano-domains stabilized by a third, soluble block or molecular additive. Polymer blocks can be synthesized from an arsenal of functional monomers directing self-assembly through packing frustration or response to various fields. The mobility in solution further allows the manipulation of self-assembly processes into specific directions by clever choice of environmental conditions. This review focuses on practical concepts that direct self-assembly into predictable nanostructures, while narrowing particle dispersity with respect to size, shape and internal morphology. The growing understanding of underlying self-assembly mechanisms expands the number of experimental concepts providing the means to target and manipulate progressively complex superstructures.