Molecular engineering of polymeric supra-amphiphiles
Polymeric supra-amphiphiles are amphiphiles that are fabricated by linking polymeric segments, or small molecules and polymeric segments, by noncovalent interactions or dynamic covalent bonds. Compared with conventional amphiphilic polymers, polymeric supra-amphiphiles are advantageous in that they possess dynamic features and their preparation may be to some extent more facile. Moreover, polymeric supra-amphiphiles are endowed with richer structure and higher stability compared with small-molecule supra-amphiphiles. Owing to these properties, polymeric supra-amphiphiles have so far shown great promise as surfactants, nanocarriers and in therapies. In this tutorial review, recent work on polymeric supra-amphiphiles, from molecular architectures to functional assemblies, is presented and summarized. Different polymeric supra-amphiphile topologies and related applications are highlighted. By combining polymer chemistry with supramolecular chemistry and colloid science, we anticipate that the study of polymeric supra-amphiphiles will promote the continued development of the molecular engineering of functional supramolecular systems, and lead to practical applications, especially in drug delivery.