Amphiphilic block copolymers as flexible membrane materials generating structural and functional mimics of green bacterial antenna complexes†
We describe the ability of a short-chain amphiphilic block copolymer to self-assemble to form an artificial supramolecular light-harvesting system. Specifically, we demonstrate that the 2.5 kDa, poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(butadiene) (PEO-b-PBD), exhibits sufficient morphological flexibility as a membrane material and enables generation of mimics of three-dimensional chlorosomes as well as supported membrane bilayers containing energy acceptors. This overall architecture replicates green bacterial light-harvesting function whereby these assemblies exhibit long-range order and three-dimensional morphology similar to native chlorosomes and are capable of energy transfer internally and to external acceptors, located in a supporting biomimetic polymer membrane. Unlike native green bacterial systems that use multiple lipids as a matrix to generate the appropriate environment for chlorosome assembly and function, the described system matrix is comprised entirely of a single polymer amphiphile. This work demonstrates the potential of short-chain amphiphilic block copolymers in generating self-assembled, bio-mimetic membrane architectures, and in doing so, generates scalable, spatial-energetic landscapes for photonic applications. Finally, the results presented provide evidence of minimal requirements to induce chlorosome-like organization and function.