Self-assembly of cyclic polymers
The self-assembly of block copolymers in solution is an expansive area of research as a consequence of the significant potential the resulting soft nanostructures possess in numerous applications (e.g. drug delivery, imaging and catalysis), as well as our desire to mimic nature's nanostructures (e.g. viruses and proteins). Of the various factors that affect self-assembly behaviour, the effect of polymer architecture is relatively unexplored despite the successful synthesis of a range of non-linear amphiphilic polymers. Indeed, recent synthetic breakthroughs have allowed the preparation of well-defined, high purity amphiphilic cyclic polymers and as a result the self-assembly of cyclic polymers is an area of increasing interest. This review will discuss the self-assembly of cyclic block copolymers, in addition to more complex cyclic architectures, as well as providing a comparison to the self-assembly of equivalent linear systems to elucidate the effect of cyclization on self-assembly.