Template-free fabrication of non-spherical polymeric nanoparticles is desirable for various applications, but has had limited success owing to thermodynamic favorability of sphere formation. Herein we present a simple way to prepare cubic nanoparticles of block copolymers by self-assembly from aqueous solutions at room temperature. Nanocubes with edges of 40–200 nm are formed spontaneously on different surfaces upon water evaporation from micellar solutions of triblock copolymers containing a central poly(ethylene oxide) block and terminal trimethylene carbonate/dithiolane blocks. These polymers self-assemble into 28±5 nm micelles in water. Upon drying, micelle aggregation and a kinetically controlled crystallization of central blocks evidently induce solid cubic particle formation. An approach for preserving the structures of these cubes in water by thiol- or photo-induced crosslinking was developed. The ability to solubilize a model hydrophobic drug, curcumin, was also explored.
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© 2017 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
- dithiolane crosslinking
- micelle aggregation
- triblock copolymers