Helical Superstructures from Charged Poly(styrene)-Poly(isocyanodipeptide) Block Copolymers

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Science  29 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5368, pp. 1427-1430
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5368.1427

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Amphiphilic block copolymers containing a poly(styrene) tail and a charged helical poly(isocyanide) headgroup derived from isocyano-l-alanine-l-alanine and isocyano-l-alanine-l-histidine were prepared. Analogous to low–molecular mass surfactants, these block copolymers self-assembled in aqueous systems to form micelles, vesicles, and bilayer aggregates. The morphology of these aggregates can be controlled by variation of the length of the poly(isocyanide) block, the pH, and the anion-headgroup interactions. The chirality of the macromolecules results in the formation of helical superstructures that have a helical sense opposite to that of the constituent block copolymers. The great variety of morphologies displayed by these block copolymers and the fact that they are easily accessible from poly(styrene) and different types of peptides open new opportunities for applications in the fields of life and materials sciences.

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