Issue 37, 2023

Topology-controlled self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymers


Contemporary synthetic chemistry approaches can be used to yield a range of distinct polymer topologies with precise control. The topology of a polymer strongly influences its self-assembly into complex nanostructures however a clear mechanistic understanding of the relationship between polymer topology and self-assembly has not yet been developed. In this work, we use atomistic molecular dynamics simulations to provide a nanoscale picture of the self-assembly of three poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(methyl acrylate) block copolymers with different topologies into micelles. We find that the topology affects the ability of the micelle to form a compact hydrophobic core, which directly affects its stability. Also, we apply unsupervised machine learning techniques to show that the topology of a polymer affects its ability to take a conformation in response to the local environment within the micelles. This work provides foundations for the rational design of polymer nanostructures based on their underlying topology.

Graphical abstract: Topology-controlled self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymers

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Article information

Article type
15 Mar 2023
16 Aug 2023
First published
30 Aug 2023
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Nanoscale, 2023,15, 15230-15237

Topology-controlled self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymers

R. López-Ríos de Castro, R. M. Ziolek and C. D. Lorenz, Nanoscale, 2023, 15, 15230 DOI: 10.1039/D3NR01204B

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