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Formation of Anisotropic Liquid Crystalline Nanoparticles via Polymerization-Induced Hierarchical Self-Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 02.03.2018, 16:34 by Song Guan, Chen Zhang, Wei Wen, Ting Qu, Xiaoxiong Zheng, Yongbin Zhao, Aihua Chen
Polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) containing liquid crystalline (LC) mesogens with tunable anisotropic morphologies have applications in various fields, but their preparation typically suffers from tedious and low-throughput approaches. Here we present an efficient route to the preparation of anisotropic morphologies of azobenzene-containing block copolymers (BCPs) at high solids content via a polymerization-induced hierarchical self-assembly in ethanol. Various anisotropic NPs, including cuboids, short belts, lamellae, and ellipsoidal vesicles, have been obtained in a remarkably broad range of BCP compositions. The NPs exhibit a smectic phase with ordered stripes when observed under TEM. This internal LC ordering plays a significant role on the formation of these intriguing anisotropic morphologies. Morphological transitions from anisotropic to isotropic spheres can be obtained upon UV illumination due to the photoresponsive properties of the azobenzene mesogens. This work significantly expands the scope of accessible morphologies in PISA and suggests that the under explored LC BCPs may have an impactful role in the PISA field.

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