Reversibly manipulating the surface chemistry of polymeric nanostructures via a "grafting to" approach mediated by nucleobase interactions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


“Grafting to” polymeric nanostructures or surfaces is a simple and versatile approach to achieve functionalization. Herein, we describe the formation of mixed polymer-grafted nanoparticles through a supramolecular “grafting to” method that exploits multiple hydrogen-bonding interactions between the thymine (T)-containing cores of preformed micelles and the complementary nucleobase adenine (A) of added diblock copolymers. To demonstrate this new “grafting to” approach, mixed-corona polymeric nanoparticles with different sizes were prepared by the addition of a series of complementary diblock copolymers containing thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) to a preformed micelle with a different coronal forming block, poly(4-acryloylmorpholine) (PNAM). PNIPAM chains were distributed throughout the corona and facilitated a fast and fully reversible size change of the resulting mixed-corona micelles upon heating. Through the introduction of an environmentally sensitive fluorophore, the reversible changes in nanoparticle size and coronal composition could be easily probed. Furthermore, preparation of mixed-corona micelles also enabled ligands, such as d-mannose, to be concealed and displayed on the micelle surface. This supramolecular “grafting to” approach provides a straightforward route to fabricate highly functionalized mixed polymeric nanostructures or surfaces with potential applications in targeted diagnosis or therapy and responsive surfaces.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3662-3670
Issue number9
Early online date18 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2017