Oxidation promoted self-assembly of π-conjugated polymers†
Self-assembly is an attractive strategy for organizing molecules into ordered structures that can span multiple length scales. Crystallization Driven Self-Assembly (CDSA) involves a block copolymer with a crystallizable core-forming block and an amorphous corona-forming block that aggregate into micelles with a crystalline core in solvents that are selective for the corona block. CDSA requires core- and corona-forming blocks with very different solubilities. This hinders its use for the self-assembly of purely π-conjugated block copolymers since blocks with desirable optoelectronic properties tend to have similar solubilities. Further, this approach is not readily reversible, precluding stimulus-responsive assembly and disassembly. Here, we demonstrate that selective oxidative doping of one block of a fully π-conjugated block copolymer promotes the self-assembly of redox-responsive micelles. Heteroatom substitution in polychalcogenophenes enables the modulation of the intrinsic polymer oxidation potential. We show that oxidized micelles with a narrow size distribution form spontaneously and disassemble in response to a chemical reductant. This method expands the scope of π-conjugated polymers that can undergo controlled self-assembly and introduces reversible, redox-responsive self-assembly of π-conjugated polymers.