Freezing polystyrene-b-poly(2-vinylpyridine) micelle nanoparticles with different nanostructures and sizes†
Herein we report how to control the nanostructures and sizes of polystyrene-b-poly(2-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P2VP) nanoparticles via manipulating freezing in solvent-exchange. By characterizing and analyzing the distinct structural features of the obtained nanoparticles, we recognized that micelle self-assembly happens in the precipitation of PS-b-P2VP when water is added into the block copolymer (BCP) solution. Solvent properties significantly influence micelle types that are vesicles in acetone/H2O and spherical micelles in tetrahydrofuran/H2O, respectively, thus further inducing different frozen nanostructures of the obtained nanoparticles, onion-like in acetone/H2O and large compound micelles in tetrahydrofuran/H2O. By changing the concentration of the block copolymers and the Vsolvent/VH2O ratio to modify the freezing stage at which block copolymer micelles are frozen, we can further control the size of the nanoparticles. Moreover, small molecules (phosphotungstic acid, pyrene, 1-pyrenebutyric acid) can be trapped into the block copolymer nanoparticles via the freezing process. Their distribution in the nanoparticles relies not only on the solvent property, but also on their interactions with block copolymers. The hybrid nanoparticles with ordered distribution of small molecules can be further changed to partially-void nanoparticles. Our study demonstrated that manipulating the freezing of block copolymers in the solvent exchange process is a simple and controllable fabrication method to generate BCP nanoparticles with different architectures.