Materials Science

Polymer Parachutes and Necklaces

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Science  11 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5455, pp. 933
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5455.933b

Surfactant vesicles can be used as nanoreactors for polymerization reactions and can serve as templates that direct the morphology of the polymer formed. This approach has been used to make closed spherical polymer structures as well as so-called “parachute-like” morphologies. One might expect that these morphologies would depend on the relative solubility of the monomers and polymers versus the surfactant, which would influence phase separation.

Jung et al. performed a systematic study of the factors that determine the final vesicle-polymer morphology using a wide variety of polymers and surfactants. Nanoscopic phase separation occurred for all common surfactant-polymer combinations, which suggests that phase separation occurs during polymerization. The final morphology did, however, depend on the chemical nature of the two components, and so guidelines for the synthesis of vesicle-polymer hybrid architectures can be developed. Novel architectures seen include “wrapped parachutes,” in which a second vesicle surrounds an inner parachute-like structure, and necklace architectures, in which numerous polymer beads decorate the vesicle surface.—JU

Adv. Mater.12, 210 (2000).

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