Click Your Nanoparticles

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Science  09 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6108, pp. 723
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6108.723-b

Polymer nanoparticles are frequently tailored for particular applications by the type of functional groups displayed on their surface. Often the identification of the best functional group or groups can be an iterative process that can be slowed down by inefficient synthesis processes. Zhang et al. streamlined nanoparticle synthesis with diblock copolymers that were made by the ultrafast ring-opening polymerization of cyclic phospholane monomers. One monomer, bearing a 2-ethylbutyl group, forms a hydrophobic core, and the other, bearing a 3-butynyl group, has an alkyne functionality that allows for subsequent derivatization with a click reaction—photomediated, radical-mediated, thiol-yne chemistry. A variety of side chains—nonionic, anionic, cationic, and zwitterionic—could be added to the diblock copolymers. Introduction into water created micelles 13 to 21 nm in diameter with a polydispersity index below 1.2. The entire synthesis could be completed for the nonionic and anionic nanoparticles in two reaction vessels in 6 hours.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/ja309037m (2012).

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