Poly(ethylene glycol) brush-b-poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone)-based double hydrophilic block copolymer particles crosslinked via crystalline α-cyclodextrin domains†
Self-assembly of block copolymers is a significant area of polymer science. The self-assembly of completely water-soluble block copolymers is of particular interest, albeit a challenging task. In the present work the self-assembly of a linear-brush architecture block copolymer, namely poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone)-b-poly(oligoethylene glycol methacrylate) (PVP-b-POEGMA), in water is studied. Moreover, the assembled structures are crosslinked via α-CD host/guest complexation in a supramolecular way. The crosslinking shifts the equilibrium toward aggregate formation without switching off the dynamic equilibrium of double hydrophilic block copolymer (DHBC). As a consequence, the self-assembly efficiency is improved without extinguishing the unique DHBC self-assembly behavior. In addition, decrosslinking could be induced without a change in concentration by adding a competing complexation agent for α-CD. The self-assembly behavior was followed by DLS measurement, while the presence of the particles could be observed via cryo-TEM before and after crosslinking.