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Spontaneous, One-Pot Assembly of pH-Responsive Hydrogen-Bonded Polymer Capsules

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-01-19, 00:00 authored by Yuhao Wang, Tsengming Chou, Svetlana A. Sukhishvili
We demonstrate a facile, one-pot spontaneous assembly of hydrogen-bonded polymer containers of controllable size in aqueous solution. Electron microscopy shows that capsule formation is nucleated by a pH-induced phase separation of an amphiphilic poly­(carboxylic acid), followed by binding and in-growth of polymer complexes within the phase separated droplets. The simple selection of different molecular weights of a stabilizing polymer affords a wide array of capsule sizes, including those in a submicron range, which are difficult to prepare using the alternative layer-by-layer technique. The capsules can spontaneously coat silica particles, and be reversibly removed by varying pH. Furthermore, the capsule walls can be photo-cross-linked to preserve their integrity over the entire pH scale, resulting in pH-triggered “breathing” containers or responsive coatings on silica particles useful for encapsulation and controlled release.