Issue 2, 2020

Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer


It is well-recognized that block copolymer self-assembly in solution typically produces spheres, worms or vesicles, with the relative volume fraction of each block dictating the copolymer morphology. Stimulus-responsive diblock copolymers that can undergo either sphere/worm or vesicle/worm transitions are also well-documented. Herein we report a new amphiphilic diblock copolymer that can form spheres, worms, vesicles or lamellae in aqueous solution. Such self-assembly behavior is unprecedented for a single diblock copolymer of fixed composition yet is achieved simply by raising the solution temperature from 1 °C (spheres) to 25 °C (worms) to 50 °C (vesicles) to 70 °C (lamellae). Heating increases the degree of hydration (and hence the effective volume fraction) of the core-forming block, with this parameter being solely responsible for driving the sphere-to-worm, worm-to-vesicle and vesicle-to-lamellae transitions. The first two transitions exhibit excellent reversibility but the vesicle-to-lamellae transition exhibits hysteresis on cooling. This new thermoresponsive diblock copolymer provides a useful model for studying such morphological transitions and is likely to be of significant interest for theoretical studies.

Graphical abstract: Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
Edge Article
21 Aug 2019
11 Nov 2019
First published
12 Nov 2019
This article is Open Access

All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Creative Commons BY license

Chem. Sci., 2020,11, 396-402

Unique aqueous self-assembly behavior of a thermoresponsive diblock copolymer

S. J. Byard, C. T. O'Brien, M. J. Derry, M. Williams, O. O. Mykhaylyk, A. Blanazs and S. P. Armes, Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 396 DOI: 10.1039/C9SC04197D

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