With polymer photoclicks to fluorescent microspheres†
We demonstrate that fluorescent, narrow-disperse microspheres are rapidly and readily prepared by photo-clicking pre-functionalised polymers using the highly efficient nitrile-imine mediated tetrazole-ene cycloaddition (NITEC) reaction. Our approach requires no stabilisers, bases or initiators, and proceeds under mild UV irradiation at ambient temperature. The diameter of the microspheres can be tuned in the 0.25–0.75 μm range depending on the reaction conditions, including polymer concentration, polymer ratio and the solvent composition. Critically, we explore the application potential of the microspheres, including fluorescence, degradation and swellability for encapsulation.