University CrestSurface-Adsorbed MicellesArmes Research Group
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  4 September 2005

This collaboration involves a joint EPSRC grant with Prof. S. Biggs' group at U. Leeds and also informal co-operation with Dr. E. J. Wanless of the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. We have prepared various pH-responsive diblock copolymers that can form micelles with cationic coronas in aqueous solution. These cationic micelles adsorb strongly and irreversibly onto an anionic mica surface at around neutral pH. On lowering the solution pH to pH 4, no micelle desorption occurs. Moreover, the core-forming chains become protonated and stand up, forming a localised polymer brush. This pH-induced transition is reversible and can be monitored using atomic force microscopy. Spectroscopic evidence for this phenomenon has been obtained using fluorescently-labelled block copolymers. These surface-adsorbed micelles have been termed 'nano-sea anemones' [G. B. Webber et al., Adv. Mater., 2004; Faraday Discussions, 2005] and new examples are now being designed. One long-term objective is the layer-by-layer adsorption of alternately cationic and anionic micelles to build up smart, supramacromolecular stimulus-responsive coatings. We also wish to examine the use of microgels in this context, since these pH-responsive particles are a whole length scale larger than micelles (i.e. around 500 nm vs. 50 nm diameter).

Selected Publications
"Tunable diblock copolymer micelles-adapting behaviour via subtle chemical modifications"
G. B. Webber, E. J. Wanless, S. P. Armes and S. Biggs
Faraday Discussions 2005, 128, 193
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"Nano-anemones: stimuli-responsive copolymer-micelle surfaces"
G. B. Webber, E. J. Wanless, S. P. Armes, Y. Tang, Y. Li and S. Biggs
Advanced Materials 2004, 16, 1794
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