Polymer patchy colloids with sticky patches†
Patchy particles (PPs) are considered as interesting building blocks for the fabrication of novel structures with enhanced complexity and functionality. However, their development is primarily limited by the fact that there is no reliable method to prepare PPs on a large scale. Herein, a one-pot strategy to prepare PPs relying on polymerization-induced phase separation in monomer-embedded polymer nanoparticles is demonstrated. The surface is found to be composed of sticky patches embedded in a hard matrix by adhesion and force–distance measurements performed by atomic force microscopy. The patch sizes could be easily tuned by controlling the monomer conversion or varying the composition between the polymer and the monomer. This study presents the possibility to develop a simple, low-cost and scalable method for preparing large quantities of PPs from homopolymers. It may also pave the way to new PPs for functional materials and devices.