A hyper-branched polymer tunes the size and enhances the fluorescent properties of aggregation-induced emission nanoparticles†
The host–guest interaction approach, specifically via the formation of hydrogen bonds, is an effective strategy for preparing luminescent hyper-branched polymers. The challenge here is how to optimize the binding strength and particle size to tune fluorescence properties. The aim of the current study was to optimize the guest (aggregation-induced emission molecule, AIE)–host (hyper-branched polymer, HBP) interaction in the development of an HBP/AIE complex (AIE–HBP) with tunable luminescence properties via the formation of strong hydrogen bonds. Overall, a simple one-step method for the preparation of AIE–HBP was demonstrated. The method was based on the formation of hydrogen bonds among AIE molecules and HBP molecules, resulting in the development of a stable AIE–polymer complex. Compared to other techniques (direct polymerization or post-functionalization), the proposed technique was much simpler. The fluorescence properties of AIE–HBP were significantly enhanced compared to AIE alone and could be tuned during the formation of AIE–HBP by using a novel vortex fluidic device (VFD). The as-prepared AIE–HBP can be used to simultaneously enhance the mechanical properties of hydrogels while increasing the fluorescence properties.