Synthesis and Controlled Self-Assembly of UV-Responsive Gold Nanoparticles in Block Copolymer Templates


We demonstrate the facile synthesis of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) functionalized by UV-responsive block copolymer ligands, poly­(styrene)-<i>b</i>-poly­(<i>o</i>-nitrobenzene acrylate)-SH (PS-<i>b</i>-PNBA-SH), followed by their targeted distribution within a lamellae-forming poly­(styrene)-<i>b</i>-poly­(2-vinylpyridine) (PS-<i>b</i>-P2VP) block copolymer. The multilayer, micelle-like structure of the GNPs consists of a gold core, an inner PNBA layer, and an outer PS layer. The UV-sensitive PNBA segment can be deprotected into a layer containing poly­(acrylic acid) (PAA) when exposed to UV light at 365 nm, which enables the simple and precise tuning of GNP surface properties from hydrophobic to amphiphilic. The GNPs bearing ligands of different chemical compositions were successfully and selectively incorporated into the PS-<i>b</i>-P2VP block copolymer, and UV light showed a profound influence on the spatial distributions of GNPs. Prior to UV exposure, GNPs partition along the interfaces of PS and P2VP domains, while the UV-treated GNPs are incorporated into P2VP domains as a result of hydrogen bond interactions between PAA on the gold surface and P2VP domains. This provides an easy way of controlling the arrangement of nanoparticles in polymer matrices by tailoring the nanoparticle surface using UV light

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