Controlling the self-assembly structure of magnetic nanoparticles and amphiphilic block-copolymers: From micelles to vesicles

Robert J. Hickey, Alyssa S. Haynes, James M. Kikkawa, So Jung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

314 Scopus citations


We report how to control the self-assembly of magnetic nanoparticles and a prototypical amphiphilic block-copolymer composed of poly(acrylic acid) and polystyrene (PAA-b-PS). Three distinct structures were obtained by controlling the solvent-nanoparticle and polymer-nanoparticle interactions: (1) polymersomes densely packed with nanoparticles (magneto-polymersomes), (2) core-shell type polymer assemblies where nanoparticles are radially arranged at the interface between the polymer core and the shell (magneto-core shell), and (3) polymer micelles where nanoparticles are homogeneously incorporated (magneto-micelles). Importantly, we show that the incorporation of nanoparticles drastically affects the self-assembly structure of block-copolymers by modifying the relative volume ratio between the hydrophobic block and the hydrophilic block. As a consequence, the self-assembly of micelle-forming block-copolymers typically produces magneto-polymersomes instead of magneto-micelles. On the other hand, vesicle-forming polymers tend to form magneto-micelles due to the solubilization of nanoparticles in polymer assemblies. The nanoparticle-polymer interaction also controls the nanoparticle arrangement in the polymer matrix. In N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) where PS is not well-solvated, nanoparticles segregate from PS and form unique radial assemblies. In tetrahydrofuran (THF), which is a good solvent for both nanoparticles and PS, nanoparticles are homogeneously distributed in the polymer matrix. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the morphology of nanoparticle-encapsulating polymer assemblies significantly affects their magnetic relaxation properties, emphasizing the importance of the self-assembly structure and nanoparticle arrangement as well as the size of the assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1517-1525
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2011


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