Testing the Vesicular Morphology to Destruction: Birth and Death of Diblock Copolymer Vesicles Prepared via Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly

Nicholas J. Warren, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Anthony J. Ryan, Mark Williams, Tristan Doussineau, Philippe Dugourd, Rodolphe Antoine, Giuseppe Portale, Steven P. Armes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), electrospray ionization charge detection mass spectrometry (CD-MS), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) are used to characterize poly(glycerol monomethacrylate)(55)-poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate)(x) (G(55)-H-x) vesicles prepared by polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) using a reversible additionfragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) aqueous dispersion polymerization formulation. A G(55) chain transfer agent is utilized to prepare a series of G(55)-H-x diblock copolymers, where the mean degree of polymerization (DP) of the membrane-forming block (x) is varied from 200 to 2000. TEM confirms that vesicles with progressively thicker membranes are produced for x = 200-1000, while SAXS indicates a gradual reduction in mean aggregation number for higher x values, which is consistent with CD-MS studies. Both DLS and SAXS studies indicate minimal change in the overall vesicle diameter between x = 400 and 800. Fitting SAXS patterns to a vesicle model enables calculation of the membrane thickness, degree of hydration of the membrane, and the mean vesicle aggregation number. The membrane thickness increases at higher x values, hence the vesicle lumen must become smaller if the external vesicle dimensions remain constant. Geometric considerations indicate that this growth mechanism lowers the total vesicle interfacial area and hence reduces the free energy of the system. However, it also inevitably leads to gradual ingress of the encapsulated water molecules into the vesicle membrane, as confirmed by SAXS analysis. Ultimately, the highly plasticized membranes become insufficiently hydrophobic to stabilize the vesicle morphology when x exceeds 1000, thus this PISA growth mechanism ultimately leads to vesicle death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1929-1937
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11-Feb-2015



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