Precise supramolecular control of surface coverage densities on polymer micro- and nanoparticles†
We report herein the controlled surface functionalization of micro- and nanoparticles by supramolecular host–guest interactions. Our idea is to exploit the competition of two high-affinity guests for binding to the surface-bound supramolecular host cucurbituril (CB7). To establish our strategy, surface azide groups were introduced to hard-sphere (poly)methylmethacrylate particles with a grafted layer of poly(acrylic acid), and a propargyl derivative of CB7 was coupled to the surface by click chemistry. The amount of surface-bound CB7 was quantified with the high-affinity guest aminomethyladamantane (AMADA), which revealed CB7 surface coverage densities around 0.3 nmol cm−2 indicative of a 3D layer of CB7 binding sites on the surface. The potential for surface functionalization was demonstrated with an aminoadamantane-labeled rhodamine (Ada-Rho) as a second high-affinity guest. Simultaneous incubation of CB7-functionalized particles with both high-affinity guests, AMADA and Ada-Rho, revealed a simple linear relationship between the resulting surface coverage densities of the model fluorescent dye and the mole fraction of Ada-Rho in the incubation mixture. This suggests a highly modular supramolecular strategy for the stable immobilization of application-relevant molecules on particle surfaces and a precise control of their surface coverage densities.